Six degrees of separation, FROM The naked chef TO …

Oh my, oh my, I’m becoming one of those people who complains about the weather – but really, we’ve had so much rain in our neck of the woods. It’s proving difficult to get our washing dry, to carry out some necessary house maintenance, and so on. The problem is, though, that I feel embarrassed about complaining, given we have brought so much of this upon ourselves. So, that recognised, I think I’d best just move on … to why we are here, our Six Degrees meme. As always, if you don’t know how it works, please check meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book, and in November it is another book I haven’t read, Jamie Oliver’s The naked chef. I don’t have it, but I am forever grateful to Jamie Oliver for teaching Son Gums to cook, through his books and cooking app. Oliver is a wonder. I was impressed with the app.

Ouyang Yu, Diary of a Naked Official

So, where to from here? I have in fact posted on a couple of cook books, but I’m not going there. Instead, I’m linking on the word “naked” in the title, and going to Ouyang Yu’s Diary of a naked official (my review). My reason is that this enabled me to link to a book that I haven’t – until now – managed to include in this meme. Ouyang-Yu is a Chinese-born Australian-based writer who has a significant body of work.

Linda Jaivin, Found in translation Book cover

Besides writing novels in English, Ouyang Yu translates English (Australian) books into Chinese. My next link is to Linda Jaivin, who not only wrote a Quarterly Essay on translation, Found in translation: In praise of a plural world (my review), but who also does Chinese-English translation, but in the reverse direction to Yu.

Book Cover

I have reviewed a handful of Quarterly Essays for this blog, another being Sebastian Smee’s Net loss: The inner life in the digital age (my review). I read this particular issue for my reading group, as the result of a little confusion. We weren’t sure whether we were to read this Quarterly Essay or …

Penguin collection, translated by Garnett, book cover

Anton Chekhov’s short story, “The lady with the little dog” (my review). Several of us, myself included, read both. The point was that Smee references Chekhov’s story in his essay, because Chekhov’s Gurov discusses his inner and outer lives. In case you are interested, Gurov argues that the inner life is where “everything that was essential, of interest and of value to him, everything that made the kernel of his life, was hidden from other people”, and Smee is concerned that in our digital age the “notion of an elusive but somehow sustaining inner self is eroding”.

Chekhov’s short story has been translated multiple times, and is much anthologised. Another frequently anthologised short story is Shirley Jackson’s “The lottery” (my review). Indeed, I wrote in my post that it is “one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature”.

Christos Tsiolkas, The slap

In that post on Jackson’s short story, I also quoted Jackson as saying her story was a “graphic dramatisation of … pointless violence and general inhumanity”, which brings us to my final link, Christos Tsiolkas’ The slap (my review), because I argue that one of its themes is the pervasiveness of violence in western middle-class society.

This month, we’ve spread our wings wide, visiting England, China, the USA, Russia and Australia. For a rare change, my authors are four males to two females. What came over me! I can’t think of any real way of linking Tsiolkas back to Oliver except to say, perhaps, that both are cool dudes with something to say?

Now, the usual: Have you read The naked chef? And, regardless, what would you link to?

47 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM The naked chef TO …

  1. Hi Sue, I have not read The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, but I have watched him on television. My links are I Sang for My Supper by Margaret Fulton; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (3 books with recipes hence my next 3 links are without recipes); Trio by William Boyd, (about a film set in Brighton); Brighton Rock by Graham Greene; and Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs.

  2. Oh Meg, it’s lovely to hear from you. I hadn’t heard from you for a while and have been I bit worried. I did email but I’m guessing you didn’t get it.

    Anyhow, I love your links, particularly Fried Green Tomatoes and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – and then ending up with Naked Lunch. A nice closing of the circle!

  3. A reminder that I have Sarah Krasnostein’s Quarterly Essay – Not Waving, Drowning – in my TBR stack.

    I like the way you turned your chain into a circle.

  4. I love this kind of chain because all the books are new to me. I’m also not familiar with the Quarterly Essay – have to look that up. AND I have to read the best short story of all time. Better get busy!
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

  5. It is tempting to start with Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, but that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere useful; one could also go for cookbooks or food memoirs. But I prefer purely verbal links this time.

    Degree one is The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer’s first novel, a war novel set on an invented island in the south Pacific. It demonstrates Mailer’s conviction that an important novel has to be big. It is big.
    Degree two is Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart. We have it, though I haven’t read beyond the first page.

    Degree three is Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov. It is not up there with The Master and Margarita, but it is amusing.

    Degree four is Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone. This was made into the movie “Who’ll Stop the Rain”; anyone wishing to get the gist of the book in two and half hours can rent it on Netflix.

    Degree five is We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, by Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway, an account of an early battle in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam.

    Degree six is The Sorrows of the Young Werther, by Goethe.

    No, I have not read The Naked Chef. We do several times a year make a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s, but it appeared in The New York Times, written up by Amanda Hesser.

    • Thanks George. Interestingly I’ve read two so far that ended with Naked Lunch which added a nice circulatory to their chains.

      I enjoyed yours. Is Dog soldiers worth getting the gist of, not that I have Netflix. And, why only one page of Bowen?

      • Dog Soldiers is quickly read. If you happened to find yourself on a very long flight (is there any other kind for Australians?), then the movie might be a way to pass the time. The novel speaks to the dislocations of about 1970 in America, some but far from all having to do with Vietnam, where the novel starts.

        Why only one page of tthe Bowen? I’m not sure, and really I should take it up again.

  6. I envy you getting all that rain. We are headed for drought here. I worry that we won’t get a decent amount of rain this winter (in Southern California). It used to be that in winter I did not have to worry about keeping my plants outdoors watered too often, now I have to monitor the situation much more closely.

    But moving on to your Six Degrees, I wish I had thought to look for a book with Naked in the title. I have one, The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov and that would have moved my chain in a different direction. I liked that you included some short stories in your links.

    –Tracy K at Bitter Tea and Mystery

    • Oh Tracy, lived in SoCal for a few years and ever since have written weekly to a special friend there. Usually we share drought stories but not at the moment. I want to send her (and now you too) some rain and for her to send us some sunny clear days! I do hope you get some decent rain soon.

      As for chains, that first link is so interesting. With some chains try a few before I find the one I want to go with.

  7. What imagination! 🙂 Interesting connections. I do have The Lady with the Dog short story collection but haven’t read it all these years. Just like my Proust set, sitting there for years and excited to say I’ve finally finished them (2013 to 2022), just in time for the Centenary of Proust’s death on Nov. 18

  8. Interesting meanderings as always! Regarding the “inner life”, I just finished Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter where this theme is explicitly addressed in the character of Mick.

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