Six Degrees of Separation – from The Beauty Myth to Waiting for Robert Capa #6Degrees

Six Degrees of Separation is a meme hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best. It works like this: each month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the others on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month we’re starting with Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth which I remember reading when it was first published. It encapsulated my own views about the way in which women pursue an impossible ideal of beauty and the money made from that pursuit. Sadly, it seems to me that this has only got worse and can now be extended to include young men. Not the kind of equality I want to see.

Lightening the tone a little, the beauty industry is closely linked to fashion which takes me to Lauren Weisberger’s bestseller The Devil Wears Prada set in the offices of a fashion magazine. I haven’t read the book but I have seen Meryl Streep’s star turn as the magazine’s editor hell-bent on keeping her staff in their places.

Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats the Devil was one of my favourite books the year it was published. Set in 1920s America, it’s a tale of daring and loneliness as the magician Charles Carter takes ever greater risks on stage. When the President dies shortly after seeing Carter’s act, the performer becomes the object of Secret Service attention. Riveting stuff!

I have to admit that I haven’t read Ted Lewis’ gangster caper Get Carter but my crime-reading partner says it’s great. I have seen the film which stars Michael Caine as the eponymous hero, though.

Caine appeared in an entirely different role in Lasse Hallström’s excellent adaptation of John Irving’s compassionate novel The Cider House Rules. Set in an orphanage where unmarried women come to have their babies, it’s about Homer Wells who learns the founder’s secret and finds himself reluctantly continuing it when Wilbur no longer can.

Leaping from New England to Gloucesteshire for Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie which many UK readers will have read at school. Lee’s colourful memoir of his childhood and early manhood in the Cotswold village of Slad probably needs to be taken with a pinch of salt but it’s thoroughly enjoyable nevertheless.

Lee also wrote about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War in A Moment of War. The Hungarian photographer and founder member of the Magnum photographic co-operative Robert Capa made his name recording the Civil War. In her novel, Waiting for Robert Capa, Susana Fortes writes about his affair with Gerda Taro who died in the war. Taro’s photographic talents were sadly overlooked, barely acknowledged at the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Centre I visited in Budapest.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from a feminist analysis of the beauty industry to a woman photographer in the Spanish Civil War. Part of the fun of this meme is comparing the very different routes other bloggers take from each month’s starting point. If you’re interested, you can follow it on Twitter with the hashtag #6Degrees, check out the links over at Kate’s blog or perhaps even join in.

21 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from The Beauty Myth to Waiting for Robert Capa #6Degrees

    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Carter Beats the Devil is superb. One to squeeze in before the better weather arrives, perhaps. I felt quite annoyed by the fact that I’d never heard of Gerda Taro before I read the Fortes and infuriated by how little acknowledgement she was given at the Capa institute in Budapest.

      Reply
  1. MarinaSofia

    About half/half on your books this time – half of them I’ve read (and like you, can’t believe that The Beauty Myth seems to have got worse), half are new to me. I like the sound of the Waiting for Robert Capa one.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I think you’d like the Fortes, Marina. I don’t think I could stand to read The Beauty Myth again. It made me angry enough the first time around but the fact that things have worsened rather than improved since might have me punching the wall. There’s so much money made out of it all, let alone the way in which it helps keep women in what so many seem to regard as their place.

      Reply
  2. Kay

    This was well done! Love these chains – each so different. Merryl Streep – that was quite the performance – she was a bit scary with her quiet, commanding voice. LOL

    Reply
  3. BookerTalk

    I’m struggling this month to get off the ground. I get to about book three and then am stuck…. Cider with Rosie is the only one of your choices that I’ve read though like you I’ve seen the film version of Devil wears Prada and Cider House Rules

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  4. Simon T

    What a great idea for a meme! I’m reading Laurie Lee at the moment – As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. And don’t hunt out The Devil Wears Prada – I love the film but the book is dreadful.

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Tempted to join us? Such a long time since I read Laurie Lee but I remember enjoying them. Not in the least tempted by Prada in book form but thinking about the film has made me want to see it again.

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  5. aparatchick

    I’ve read two on your chain: The Devil Wears Prada (rare instance of the movie being better than the book) and Cider with Rosie. And we both have devils in our chain this month!

    Reply
  6. Kate W

    Funny, I almost started with Devil Wears Prada as well (for the same reason as you) but forced myself in a different direction because I’d used Devil in a previous chain. Regarding reading the book – don’t bother. Although it is Weisberger’s best (her most recent was not great), it is one of those books that’s better on film – hard to match what Streep did with that character.

    Reply
      1. Kate W

        It’s one of those films that if it’s on tv, I’ll watch it despite having seen it many times. Looking back, it’s a stellar cast but Streep and Blunt are brilliant.

        Reply

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