Six degrees of separation, FROM Passages TO …

I may as well continue my practice of talking about the weather! Here down under, autumn has started, and we in the nation’s capital at least have had a beautiful start with the warm, mild days we love autumn for. May it continue for some weeks given our non-summer. Now, to this month’s Six Degrees. If you don’t know how the meme works, please check meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule is that Kate sets our starting book. In March it is YET another book I haven’t read, though I remember it well, Gail Sheehy’s best-selling self-help book, Passages. GoodReads describes it as “a brilliant road map of adult life” so, what to link?

Alex Miller, Lovesong

Well, reader, I was challenged. The closest to self-help I’ve read is Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence but I’ve linked to that before. Perhaps, then, a book that spans adult life? Well, yes, I s’pose. That would certainly be doable, but, I’ve decided to go with author birth-date. Gail Sheehy was born in 1936, and so was the Australian author, Alex Miller, so it’s to his Lovesong (my review) that I’m linking.

Elizabeth Jolley, The orchard thieves

Now, another Australian author has also written a book titled Lovesong, Elizabeth Jolley. However, I read that before blogging, so I’m going to link to one of her books I have read since and reviewed here, The orchard thieves (my review). It’s a glorious book about a grandmother thinking about her children and grandchildren, about “little rogues and thieves” who “would, during their lives, do something perfect and noble and wonderful and something absolutely appalling”.

Karen Viggers, The orchardist's daughter

Somehow, I’ve read a few books about orchards, and one of them is local author Karen Viggers’ The orchardist’s daughter (my review), which is set in northwest Tasmania and deals with two siblings who had grown up on an orchard, though they leave it at the beginning. It’s a strong story about life and tensions in a logging-based town.

For anyone who is up-to-date on Australian writing, the next link is so obvious I’m almost too embarrassed to make it, Robbie Arnott’s Limberlost (my review). This novel is set in a northeast Tasmanian orchard, and while it is not specifically about siblings, siblings do play a significant role. It also encompasses the issue of logging, though not as centrally as Viggers’ book does.

Book cover

Now, we really need to leave Australia, because, much as I love to promote Aussie Lit, I mustn’t be too ethnocentric about all this. So, my next link is on third novels. Limberlost is Robbie Arnott’s third novel. Singaporean author Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic stories for Punjabi widows (my review) is her third novel, so, short and sweet, that’s my next link.

Hanif Kureishi, The buddha of suburbia

My final link is on subject matter, as both Jaswal’s novel and Hanif Kureishi’s The buddha of suburbia (my review) deal in some way with subcontinent culture in London. Jaswal’s protagonist, Nikki, is born in England to Punjabi immigrant parents, while Kureishi’s Karim is the English-born son of a Pakistani father from Bombay and an English mother. Both characters, in different ways, have to make their way through the intersection of anglo and immigrant cultures.

So, we haven’t travelled a lot this month as we started in America with Passages, spent some time in Australia and then went to England! My author gender-split though has been 50-50 which I rarely achieve.

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

30 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Passages TO …

  1. Hey, you can promote Aussie Lit as much as you like! I, for one, appreciate hearing about books from Australia. Very nicely done with the first (difficult) link here!

  2. The first step will be to Flights of Passage by Samuel Hynes, a memoir of WW II service as a pilot in the U.S. Marine . Yes, I picked it for the title, but it is in part of growing up.

    Next, Crossing the Line by Alvin Kernan, a memoir of U.S. Navy service in WW II, as aviation maintenance man and gunner. Both Hynes and Kernan had academic careers after the war, retiring from Princeton.

    Third, Growing Up by Russell Baker. He became a journalist after the war, but was trained as a Navy pilot. Growing Up carries Baker from early childhood in rural Virginia (now part of the Washington, DC suburbs) to his early years working for The Baltimore Sun.

    Fourth, Rebellions, Perversities, and Main Events by Murray Kempton, a collection of essays. Kempton was a journalist, and grew up in Baltimore (I think) as Baker in part did.

    Fifth, since Baker was a journalist, A Personal History by Katherine Graham, long-time owner and chief executive of The Washington Post. This one I have not read.

    Finally, Scribble, Scribble by Nora Ephron, a collection of essays on journalism. This is a good one to end with since one of the essays makes sport of Passages

    • Oh I do love that you refer back to Passages in your last link, George. And, as always I enjoyed your links. I am particularly interested in the journalist selections. Katherine Graham was the subject of a film if I remember correctly (do I?) Do you recommend Ephron’s journalism?

      • Meryl Streep played Katherine Graham in a movie about the Pentagon Papers case–The Post? Scribble, Scribble is a collection of columns from (I think) Esquire Magazine, and in book form such collections aren’t really for re-reading. Once through, they are enjoyable.

  3. I don’t read self-help books either, which made it hard to get started with this month’s chain. I like your idea of linking by the authors’ year of birth. Apart from Limberlost, I’m not familiar with any of the books in your chain, but all of them sound interesting.

  4. Passages is one of those “ancient” books we have all heard so much about but I don’t remember reading it. I enjoyed seeing your links. The Jolley book sounds especially good. I do like her.

  5. Hi Sue, I have not read Passages, and like others found it difficult to make suitable links. I decided on travelling. The Voyage by Murray Bail; Venus in Transit by Shirley Hazzard; Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser; The Road by Cormac McCarthy; The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan; and a Passage to India by E M Forster.

  6. That was as always! I can’t remember whether or not I’ve read Passages; it was so popular when it came out it feels like I did read it even if I didn’t. I would like to a Connie Willis book called Passage, a science fiction novel centered on a couple of doctors experimenting with near death experiences. And then from there, who knows?

  7. I was struck with a starting book with this one too, so I went with the obvious link of Passages in the title. So many interesting titles in your chain, the only one I have on my shelves is Limberlost which is waiting to be read, while I have read another of Balli Kaur Jaswal’s books which I did enjoy.

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