Six degrees of separation, FROM Born to run TO …

April already, and I am back in Melbourne to spend Easter with the family (and feed grandchildren too much chocolate probably!) But that’s a week away. Today is Six Degrees time. 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 April, yep, it’s a book I haven’t read – again – Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Kate calls it, Born to run. I make that point about “autobiography” because so often these days the books people write about their own lives tend to be “memoirs” but I presume Springsteen’s book covers more than a memoir typically does?

Book cover

For my first link I’ve gone with something pretty obvious, a memoir with “running” in the title, Haruki Murakami’s What I talk about when I talk about running (my review). This is definitely not autobiography because it really does focus on his running. I had hoped – despite the title – for a bit more about his writing!

Book cover

As I recollect, Murakami’s book takes a bit of a log-cum-diary form, so I’m going to another memoir that really is diary form, Helen Garner’s Yellow notebook: Diaries, Volume 1, 1978-1987 (my review). She is a mistress of the form and I hope to get to volume 3 next year – if life would just slow down a bit.

Book cover

In her book, Garner mentions many authors whom she admires. One of these is Christina Stead, whom she calls “a visionary”. I’m linking to her novel For love alone (my review).

The women in black, Madeleine St John, book cover

Christina Stead left Australia in her 20s, and made her name as a writer after she left our shores. Another Australian writer who made her name as a writer after leaving Australia is Madeleine St John, but it’s to her Australian-set novel, The women in black (my review), that I’m linking.

Jane Austen, Emma, Penguin

The women in black was adapted to film, but its title was slightly changed to The ladies in black. My next link is a bit cheeky, but not, I think, as cheeky as my last link will be. Jane Austen’s Emma (one of my posts) has been adapted several times to film and TV, but one of my favourites is the one Wikipedia describes as a ““reworking and updating”, Clueless. (Now, that’s a big change in title!)

Book cover

And now for, perhaps, my cheekiest link yet! Alicia Silverstone, who starred in Clueless as Cher (the updated Emma) left the movie world and became interested in animal activism and organic eating/veganism. Australian poet/novelist/essayist/academic David Brooks wrote a memoir-cum-reflection about his journey to vegetarianism and then veganism, The grass library (my review), in which he also talks at length about his relationship with some farm animals.

So, I could argue that I’ve achieved a bit of a circle this month, taking us from Springsteen’s autobiography to Brooks’ sort-of memoir? A circle is not required for the meme, so let’s not argue the point and just move on! We have covered a lot of ground from running, to diary-writing, to Aussie expats, before taking Jane Austen over to the US and ending up on a small farm in Australia’s Blue Mountains.

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

    26 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation, FROM Born to run TO …

    1. Very clever final link, Sue!

      I agree about the memoir/ autobiography labels and how we see memoir used more frequently these days. I think of memoir applying to a particular aspect of a person’s life, or a particular slice of time. Born to Run is most certainly an autobiography – it covers his whole life and includes all sorts of detail from relationships and family to music and touring.

    2. Well, I haven’t read Born to Run but I know someone who has and it’s apparently very frank because Springsteen speak for the first time about crippling years of depression and how he survived it. From your chain, I have read Women in Black, which is one of my favourite books and the one I always buy as a gift because it’s got such broad appeal. The film is excellent too.

      • Haha, Lisa … I haven’t read it either, though he’s sentimentally interesting because I think that around the time our son was born in Washington DC Springsteen – whom I didn’t really know – had a hit, Born in the USA, and someone made a baby shirt for Son Gums with that on it. I will never forget Springsteen because of it.

    3. Loved that final link, and it reminded me yet again of Percy Shelley’s essays (including on Vegetarianism) which are still waiting on my TBR (why oh why am I so greedy about review copies). Emma is among my favourite Austens and I love the eccentricity and humour in it (incidentally, I watched bits of Clueless long ago without realising that it was meant to be Emma 🙂 )

      • I forgot to say, I have read bits of the Murakami in the literary magazine Monkey, and it was indeed more focused on running. There is a newer volume by him on writing, though.

      • Oh great Mallika. Interestingly, I took a while to warn to Emma as a novel – not sure why – but I now appreciate the skill with which it is told. It’s not that I didn’t like it so much as that I loved other Austens more. Now I love it equally!

          • Haha, S&S was my mum’s least favourite, but I really like it. I am mostly Elinor, but have with a touch of Marianne, of her certainty that she knows how things are or should be. As a young person I could, like her, pontificate on things I really hadn’t experienced, only to fnd I was wrong (os, at least, not quite right!)

    4. Hi Sue, I have not read Born to Run, but my link begins with the book I do have and read, Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ‘N’ Roll by Marc Dolan; Just Kids by Patti Smith; Me by Elton John; Coal Miner’s daughter by Loretta Lynn; Cash by Johnny Cash; and Death of a Lady’s Man by Leonard Cohen. I like your link to Murakami’s book, I thought of that one too.

    5. Oh, Sue, you’ve done it again – given me lots of books I want to investigate. I’m with you on needing life to slow down so that I can read all of the books I have my eye on!

      Emma is my favourite Austen novel, and I love Clueless as an adaptation. My entire chain hinges on a cheeky link this month, so I appreciated the end of your chain.

    6. The song “Born to Run” was about driving, not running, so step one will be to On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

      Step two will drop a couple of wheels, to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, a considerably more thoughtful book, if one that runs up less mileage.

      Step three will be to Potestas Clavium by Lev Shestov, a man roughly as pro-sophist, anti-Platonic as Pirsig.

      Step four will be to To Begin Where I Am by Czeslaw Milosz, which has an essay on Shestov.

      Milosz taught at the University of California, Berkeley, so step five will be to Changing Places by David Lodge, much of which is set at Euphoria State University, a thinly disguised version of the University of California, situated in the city of “Plotinus”.

      Step six will be to Professional Correctness by Stanley Fish, since the character Morris Zapp in Trading Places and the sequel Small World is known to have been modeled on him.

      During one year of college a lived next to a man with very large speakers–they could set teacups to moving by millimeters across a table–and a passion for Springsteen. It surprises me a little that I don’t know more of the words to his songs than I do. I have not read Springsteen’s memoir and will not seek it out. I suppose that I would read it if it came to hand somehow. I would certainly read it if somebody in the neighborhood book club picked it–that’s how we came to read Keith Richards’s memoir.

      • Ah thanks, George, I know no Springsteen songs or words – that I’m aware of – except Born in the USA. I probably do know some without being aware that they are his but by the mid to late 70s my music tastes had changed

        l knw of a few of yovr books here – not surprisingly – Kerouac, Pirsig and Lodge – but have only read the Pirsig.

        I love that you have a neighbourhood book group.

        • Of the others, Milosz’s essays are probably the most accessible. Shestov is on the technical side. Fish I mostly know from newspaper columns.

          The good thing about a neighborhood book group is that it causes one to read books one would not have chosen. The bad thing about a neighborhood book club is that it make one feel obliged to finish books in the face of judgment and common sense.

          • Ha ha, George, re neighbourhood book groups. I found that more with my old internet book groups, though our choices were pretty good as a whole, but less so with my longstanding group here where we choose by consensus and have some strong criteria. Which is not to see that all our picks would be first choices for me, but I can’t recollect one that I didn’t think worth my reading.

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