Saturday 7 October 2017

#6degrees October

#6degrees is a monthly meme hosted by Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Oftentimes I haven't read the starting book for this meme, but I can assure you that I only play the next 6 books with ones I have actually read. 
If I've read the book during this blogging life, then I include my review, otherwise, you just have to take my word for it!

This month the starting book is Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquival.
Are you game?

Old image alert - Kate @Books Are My Favourite & Best now hosts #6Degrees but this is a good refresh of the rules.

Like Water For Chocolate was a huge favourite of mine in 1992. Like many other fans, it was no doubt thanks to the film that came out that year. The book was actually first published in 1989 and became a runaway bestseller in Mexico and the States. The 1992 movie then introduced this delicious story to the rest of the world.

After seeing the movie, I quickly purchased the book and devoured it several times in greedy, compulsive sittings. Mexico and magic realism was suddenly my thing.
I wanted more.

Not long after my binge reading of LWFC, I discovered The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols in my local bookstore.

I was rather taken with the cover and with Robert Redford's name on the cover. 
In my twenties I had a slight obsession with Robert Redford movies and watched most of his backlist as well as those he was now directing and producing himself. My ignorance of the lower states of America at that time, also meant that I thought that New Mexico was actually, you know, in Mexico.

I loved the beginning of this book, it was quirky and fun, but I remember getting tired of it's rambling nature by the halfway mark. 
Back then I always finished books that I started - especially if I had paid good money for it - but it was a struggle. And I never bothered to watch the movie version either.

In a reverse link, Robert Redford's wonderful movie version of Out of Africa was a movie that I wished I hadn't bothered with the book.

The movie pulled together stories and information about Blixen's life from various sources, not just the book. The book was no where near as cohesive or satisfying.

Another book that I found unsatisfying and lacking in cohesion was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Even though I read this during my blogging years, I failed to write a review for it. 
After loving The Buried Giant and The Remains of the Day so much, my disappointment left me speechless! However, that doesn't stop me from being delighted that Ishiguro won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

Ishiguro's nomination boosted my stats for Reading the Nobels. Until last night, I had only read 19 Nobel Prize winners; now I have read 20!
The earliest Nobel winner that I've read to date is Rabindranath Tagore from the 1913 awards.

I read his most well-known book The Home and the World during a fabulous readalong last year.
It reminded me why I love Indian literature so much, but also revealed how much I still don't know about the history and culture of this ancient country.
In an attempt to rectify this situation, I have started Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor.

It coincides with my recent readings about early Australian history from the Aboriginal perspective.
History is usually written by the victors to explain how this came about. 
Assumptions, prejudices and justifications get in the way of the so-called facts.

It's not easy for other voices or other perspectives to be heard.
Naturally, these other voices also have their own assumptions, prejudices and justifications, but it is important that the dominant narrative is challenged by these other stories and versions of history.

Dark Emu Black Seeds: agriculture or accident? by Bruce Pascoe is one such challenge.

This ended up being quite a well-travelled #6degrees, taking us from Mexico, to New Mexico, Kenya, a dystopian English boarding school, India and finally home again to Australia.

Where did you end up this month?


  1. Anonymous7/10/17

    What a fascinating set of links Brona. Interestingly, and following on from you comment on my post, I saw the film of Milagro Beanfield War, and really liked it - probably because I lived in Southern California in the early 90s and was interested in the whole Mexican immigration thing. I never felt the urge to read the book though! I can understand the confusion about New Mexico, but if you haven't been there, do go one day. It's a beautiful and fascinating state.

    I'm inclined to agree with you re Never let me go. I read the book first (and think I saw the film! I'm hopeless aren't I for someone whose career was in film) but it wasn't my favourite Ishiguro. I've read all but two or three of his, and of those I'd put Never let me go last. Not sure why, really, because the topic is well worth exploring.

    (BTW Because I'm commenting under my Blog not Google Account, I'll have no idea whether you respond to this or not. I have no idea why Google won't provide for all commenters to receive notification if they'd like!)

    1. Now that is annoying - the bit about non-google commenters.
      I did look at moving my blog to wordpress, but I would need to hire a tech person to change some coding so that all my links could be moved as well. Having used wordpress for work and AWW now as well, I see that it has just as many clunky elements to it as blogger - just different!

  2. What an interesting chain, Brona, including books I've never heard of as well as books I've read or have waiting to be read. After watching the movie version of Out of Africa I was keen to read the book and did make a start, but soon got bored and haven't finished it. I've read Never Let Me Go which left me with such sickening feelings (what a horrifying concept) that I know I couldn't bear to watch the movie.

    1. The book of Out of Africa seems to have left most people cold (I think I only had one fan who attempted to help the rest of us see it differently in my comments on the post).

      Never Let Me Go has had some amazing rave reviews, but I simply couldn't get worked up about it one or the other. And the movie was just weird!

  3. I was interested to hear you enjoyed Remains of the Day but not Never Let Me Go. I confess I haven't read anything by Ishiguro, and perhaps it's time I did! Dark Emu came highly recommended to me, and it's sitting on my to-read list at home.

    1. I love Ishiguro's restrained, gentle, emotional wrought writing style. His topics though are varied in the extreme, so I think some books will work for you and some might not.
      Remains of the Day is an upstairs-downstairs kind of story about thwarted love. The Buried Giant is an Arthurian style mythical road trip with two elderly, slightly memory-impaired protagonists - which does nothing in explaining why I loved it so much.
      Never Let Me Go is a dystopian boarding school type story about cloning.

      The other books are still waiting for me to discover them :-)

  4. Anonymous7/10/17

    So, Mexico and magic realism - did you read John Irving's most recent book, Avenue of Mysteries? (it ticks those boxes!).

    Who didn't have a thing for Robert Redford?! Agree with you about Out of Africa book though - rare case of movie being way better. For the record, my favourite Redford film is The Natural.

    1. The Natural is one of mine too, but I will always have a soft spot for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as it was my first love. I'm hoping that he and Jane Fonda do a great job of Our Souls At Night, so I can add it to my list of his favourites :-)

    2. And no, I haven't tried Avenue of Mysteries, my love affair with Mexico & magic realism got stuck with One Hundred Years of Solitude. It was a challenging read that left me a little magic realism-shy. At the time I just thought I wasn't old enough or mature enough to get it...and put it on the back burner to try later.
      One could say that that later is now here!

  5. I too generally like Ishiguro, but Never Let Me Go left me cold. Bleh.

    I did a whole semester class on Karen Blixen, with biography and complete works, so my memories of Out of Africa are mixed up with all that other stuff. I have no idea if I liked it or not! Guess I should re-read and see.

    1. I think she is a fascinating, complex character & I'd love to know more about her and her life and times, but Out of Africa the book left me cold.

      I'll have to ask one of the bloggers who raves about Never Let Me Go what it is that they love - maybe they can help us understand what we obviously missed out on?

  6. This is really fun, what an interesting link of books you've put together. Inglorious Empire sounds fascinating.

  7. I think I'll have to get a copy of The Milagro Beanfield War. I went to New Mexico years ago and loved the landscape but have not come across many books set there.

    1. And it's a series of books - three I think.

      My understanding is that Nichols grew up/lived in New Mexico and also has written memoirs about this experience.


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