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.