Saturday 5 November 2016

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best.
This month the starting book is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Are you game?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was one of those much anticipated reads that failed to deliver.
I was left confused about Ishiguro's intentions, disappointed by my lack of engagement with the story, and left wondering what I was missing.
Why did everyone else love this book so much?
What was I unable to see? 
Or feel?

The movie also failed to move me.
I was delighted, when at the end, Mr Books and B16 both looked at me and said 'what?'

Another book that failed to grab me the way it seemed to grab everyone else, was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
I adored the beginning.
I was breathless with the sudden horror and randomness of the attack.
But as the book wore on, Theo's actions wore me out.
I stopped feeling sympathetic & just wanted to slap him!

Another character I wanted to slap or shake into more reasonable action, was Clemency in The Catherine Wheel by Elizabeth Harrower.
Clem allowed herself to be manipulated by a master manipulator.
It was painful and frustrating.
Harrower is an Australian writer who wrote her characters, in this particular book, into post-war London.

A post-war English writer, who wrote his characters into an Australian setting was Nevil Shute in On the Beach.
This was Shute's most disturbing novel.
The effects of a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere are slowly eradicating human life on the entire planet.
Melbournians will be last people left on they wait for the prevailing weather conditions to bring the radioactive cloud southwards to them...a curious calm replaces the initial chaos.
Unsettling and frightening right to the bitter end.

Another book that recently chilled me to my bones as I came face to face with the reality of our human impact on the planet was reading The Reef: A Passionate History by Iain McCalman.
The final chapters on the changes currently being observed in the Great Barrier Reef and what this means for the health of the planet were sobering indeed.
The earlier chapters, were full of fascinating historical episodes centred around the reef.
Local indigenous stories, first encounters, explorers and ship wrecks.

Another story with a Great Barrier Reef connection is Ellen Van Neervan's Heat and Light.
The middle section of her book is entitled, Water
It features a not too distant future environmental crisis.
The main character travels to an island where Australia2 is being established as a way of managing the 'problem' of Aboriginal landrights. 
The island is also inhabited by plant people.
Van Neervan writes a sexy and provocative mix of politics, mythology, sexuality and environmentalism.

When I think of sexy and provocative though, my thoughts go straight to the wonderful, gritty, passionate Dorothy Porter and The Monkey's Mask.
Nearly two years later and this book still haunts me.
I feel all stirred up and edgy just thinking about it again.
If you have never read any Porter before, please, please, please do not be put off by the verse novel form. 
Run out and grab yourself a copy now.
You can thank me later.

My hope for this #6degrees was to end with an Australian book in honour of #AusReadingMonth.
I was delighted to find that five Aussie titles found their way into the mix.

I'm not sure how other #6degree participants write their posts, but I simply cannot plan or map this meme. 
If I think about it too much, it doesn't work.
I just have to sit down at my computer and start typing.
The links become apparent as I go along.

How do you write your #6degree posts?

The December #6degrees chain will begin with Richard Yates' book, Revolutionary Road.


  1. Anonymous5/11/16

    Such an eclectic list - shows how our minds jump from one thing to another. And yes, like you, I just sit down and type these posts and try not to overthink the connections - usually the first thing that pops to mind is the best.

    Haven't read the Porter but your reference made me want to (I'll try not to be put off by the verse format...).

    Heat and Light remains one of the oddest books I've read in the last few years. I thought it was well-written but really didn't like it at all (the alien plant people still haunt me).

    Thanks for joining in!

    1. I hope you do find time for the Porter soon - I have become quite evangelical about her writing, but know it won't suit everyone.

      The short stories in Heat & Light have not stayed with me as much as the plant people (although Pearl lingers around the fringes). I'd love to know more about the mythology layers to this one.

  2. Anonymous5/11/16

    Actually, while I love Ishiguro and have read all but two of his books, Never let me go is my least favourite, and I chose not to see the movie, so, really I'm with you on this one Brona.

    I loved Heat and light from beginning to end, though it is the plant people in the central section which stand out in my memory. Pearl too lingers, but also the sense of the stories at the end, even if not their details.

    Don't be put off by the verse format Kate. I've read a few verse novels and they are not as difficult as you think they might be before you start.

    1. The Buried Giant was probably my favourite read of 2015, & I enjoyed all the repressed angst in Remains of the Day, but I've yet to try any other Ishiguro's (Unconsoled is on my TBR pile I believe). Delighted to see that I have more great reads ahead of me there.

  3. Anonymous5/11/16

    I think it is amazing how you pull all these thoughts together.
    I just read your review once b/c I am going to try to writea #6degree post?
    I have to be in a 'zone' and as you say let your mind swirl around the 'virtual bookcase'.
    I had the exact same reaction to 'Never let me go' and The Goldfinch. I just didn't get the hype.
    The 'cloud of death' slowly approaching Melbourne in On the Beach was a chilling reading experience. The rest of the books....will be a 'Saturday investigation' on google and amazon. Chouette chronique! (great blogpost!)

    1. Thanks Nancy. I look forward to seeing where your chain of thought will lead you with this.

  4. Love your train of thoughts on this. Going to check out the Monkey's Mask!

  5. I ALSO did not like Never Let Me Go! I did like Buried Giant, but Never felt pointless. And I never read Goldfinch, because I didn't like Secret History.

    1. Pointless sums it up for me too Jean!
      So glad to see I'm not alone here - I wonder what it was about this book that so many others loved though? I think Kate enjoyed the creepiness of it, but I felt it was an undertone that never went anywhere.

      I enjoyed The Secret History for what it was but utterly failed to see what all the fuss was about.

      Oh well, horses for course as they say!
      It would be boring if we liked all the same things, but it is lovely to find fellow like-minded travellers :-)

  6. Put me down as another who didn't like The Goldfinch. I got so annoyed with it that I didn't finish it.
    Heat and Light is one I did like.
    I read On the Beach after I saw the film and I remember the film better than I remember the book.
    The Reef sounds like my kind of book.

  7. I do like this meme- must give it a try sometime! You are not alone in your feelings about The Goldfinch - I had a completely similar reaction and truly didn't get why so many people loved it. But that's the joy of reading!

  8. I'm sad to hear that you didn't like Never Let Me Go. I enjoyed the movie, but haven't read the book yet. I really like all the links in your chain.
    Here's my chain:


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