Six degrees of separation, FROM Trust TO …

A month already into the new year, and of course I can’t believe it! Nor can I believe that I didn’t edit out last month’s opening paragraph when I published this month’s this morning, so this paragraph is different to the one that first went live! Silly me! We have just arrived in Melbourne for three birthdays, so my mind was elsewhere. Anyhow, I’ll put my red-face aside and get on with it. If you don’t know how Six Degrees works, please check meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book. In February it is another book I haven’t read, Hernan Diaz’s Trust. She chose it because it topped her 2022 “best of” book lists. It is about wealth and power in New York so my first thought was Tom Wolfe’s The bonfire of the vanities though I think this is a long bow in terms of the story. However, I haven’t reviewed that on my blog which is my rule-of-thumb for my links, so …

I’m going the easy route and choosing one of the two books that topped my smaller 2022 list of favourite Aussie books. Of the two, I’ve read one (the other being on my February TBR) so that read one will be my link, Jessica Au’s Cold enough for snow (my review). I’m thrilled to hear that it has just been announced the winner of the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award Prize for Literature and the Fiction Prize.

Cold enough for snow concerns a mother and daughter trip to Japan, though what it is about is something a bit different. Another daughter-mother story set in Asia, this time Korea, and told from the daughter’s point-of view, is Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Winter in Sokcho (my review), so that’s my next link.

Book cover

Dusapin’s narrator comes across as a bit of a misfit, as one who seems unwilling to follow the expectations of her community. She reminded me, in this sense, of the protagonist of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience store woman (my review). In fact, I’m not the only one who felt this connection because the GoodReads intro to Winter in Sokcho describes it “as if Marguerite Duras wrote Convenience Store Woman“.

My next link is a bit cheeky, but Murato’s protagonist, Keiko, works, obviously, in a convenience store. Nardi Simpson, in her Song of the crocodile (my review), writes of one of her protagonists that “with guts and confidence, Celie turns her mother’s laundry skills into a business called the Blue Shed, providing work for herself and the other women”. Now, while a laundry isn’t technically a convenience store, I reckon it is a very convenient service, so that’s good enough for me.

Book cover

In Song of the crocodile, the crocodile is a totemic being who becomes angry when things in the town go far too awry for it to be tolerated any more. Peter Godwin’s memoir, When a crocodile eats the sun (my review) also invokes a crocodile being. As I wrote in my post, ‘The title comes from an old Zulu and Venda belief that a solar eclipse occurs when a crocodile eats the sun. They see it as the worst of omens, “as a warning that he [the celestial crocodile] is much displeased with the behaviour of man below”‘. (Of course, I could have just said that I was linking on the word in the title but that would be too obvious.)

Peter Godwin is a Zimbabwean author, and as is Tsitsi Dangarembga. Indeed, they were born two years apart in what was then Southern Rhodesia, but of course to very different families. Anyhow, it’s to her, and her powerful novel This mournable body (my review) that I’m linking for my last book.

So, a bit of an unusual chain this month, because most of my links draw from the content of the stories, rather than from my usual variety of link options. But this is all I had time to do this month. Five of my six authors are women, which is not very diverse, but we did travel to Japan, Korea, and Zimbabwe, as well as Australia – never once setting foot in the usual places like England and the USA. I’m sort of proud of that!

Now, the usual: Have you read Trust? And, regardless, what would you link to?

    25 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Trust TO …

    1. Bother! I was so busy writing my review of Michael Meehan’s An Ungrateful Instrument — and thinking, thinking, thinking about it endlessly because it’s so marvellous — that I forgot what date is and that I should have been doing #6Degrees.
      Ah well…
      No, I haven’t read Trust, and no, I’m not going to because it doesn’t sound all that interesting to me. All that I can think of for #6Degrees for now is Washington Irving’s A History of New York which I have not read but I have fond memories of finding it in the souvenir shop at the Alhambra. And I’m sure I could segue from that to something Spanish, but I shall mull that over while I do some Latin. We start classes again on Monday and I am determined to have finished revising last year’s work before I get there…

      • Haha Lisa … your Latin sounds like our Tai Chi, which returned last week. Last year I remember being so stale that I felt embarrassed at the first class of the year, so this year we did some practice in the week beforehand so that at least we didn’t completely embarrass ourselves with legs and arms going in opposite directions.

        Somehow I usually remember the the first Saturday of the month. Your linking ideas sound interesting.

        • I had been working steadily through Books 1 & 2, and then suddenly social stuff disrupted my routine, and all of sudden I had hardly any time.
          But yes, anything physical needs refreshing, I remember that first week back at school after 6 weeks of idle reading and being made to do PT. Ugh…

    2. Hi Sue, I haven’t read Trust, but I have read three of your selections. I did enjoy Cold Enough For Snow, and Sockcho. I did travel to America and England, but also Australia with my links. The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue; The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy; The Financier by Theodore Dreiser; and The Life to Come by Michelle de Ketser.

    3. I didn’t manage to read Trust in time, but I have as it happens included Sokcho, Convenience Store Woman and This Mournable Body in previous chains of mine. I hadn’t really thought about the different way we make links. Mine are always content-driven, rather than say, key words in the titles. It all makes for interesting stuff, doesn’t it?

    4. On Tuesday I told students in an ESL class to come back with some words they had encountered and would like to be explained. The first word offered on Thursday was “trust”. I explained it, mentioned the distinction between “trust [someone or something]” and “trust that [some condition holds]” I also displayed the motto “In God We Trust” on the back of a $20 bill. Which leads to the first link:

      In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, a collection of pieces by the American humorist Jean Shepherd. Some of them became the basis for the movie A Christmas Story, which is back on television every December. It is set among the working people and unemployed of Gary, Indiana, during the later years of the Depression, so financially and geographically it is at quite a remove from Trust.

      Thirty Years in the Senate of the United States by Thomas Hart Benton, a man who deeply distrusted paper money; or so I recall the title–the Gutenberg Project as it as Thirty Years’ View. I did not read the whole book when I had it. Parts of it seemed to wish to be read in the voice of Foghorn Leghorn.

      The Year of Decision 1846 by Bernard DeVoto. Benton’s son-in-law John C. Fremont plays a role in the book, largely as introducing more confusion to the confused situation brought on by the American takeover of California.

      The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. Grant fought in two campaigns of the Mexican War, which forms a fair part of Year of Decision.

      Roughing It by Mark Twain, who was Grant’s publisher. Roughing It covers much of the same territory as Year of Decision.

      Finally, Black Money by Ross MacDonald, since it takes place in California and Nevada, though not quite the parts of either that Roughing It does.

      • Love the sound of your first link George … I haven’t heard of Jean Shepherd. Nor of Benton. A very interesting chain you’ve created and love that it ends up with “money” again.

        I didn’t know you did ESL classes. My mum did ESL volunteering for a long time after she retired and got a lot out of it.

        • It should be straightforward to have a look at “A Christmas Story”. Googling for “you’ll shoot your eye out,” an important line in one of Shepherd’s stories, fetches quite a few links, some to videos.

          I have taught ESL through my parish since 2012. I enjoy it.

          Thomas Hart Benton had an odd career. Early on, having acted as Andrew Jackson’s second in a duel, he took offense at something or another that Jackson had said. He and his brother then had a tavern brawl with Jackson, leaving Jackson badly wounded and them I think not uninjured. This was well before Jackson was president or Benton a senator.

    5. I had mixed feelings about Trust – it would not have made my “Best of” list but it was an interesting book group choice and I was excited I was reading it just as Kate chose it!

      I have not read any of your books but am amused by George’s list because I had a bio of Thomas Hart Benton’s daughter Jessie when I was a child. They are both pretty obscure these days!

      Here is my chain:

    6. Pingback: ≫ Seis grados de separación, DESDE la Confianza HASTA...

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