Six Degrees of Separation – from Sanditon to The Corrections

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 others to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the titles on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

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This month we’re starting with Jane Austen’s Sanditon, recently televised in the UK which must have been something of a challenge given that the novel’s unfinished.

John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman has three different endings making it well nigh unfilmable, you’d think, but Harold Pinter did an excellent job with the screenplay for the 1981 movie starring Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep.

The title of Fowles’ book leads me to French Exit, Patrick deWitt’s caustic caricature of the wealthy upper classes, which takes its readers from New York City to Paris in the company of Frances Price, her son Malcolm and Small Frank, their ancient cat – once met never forgotten.

Small Frank would no doubt have sneered at the hairless therapy cat supposedly helping Jay get over what he sees as his mother’s desertion when he was a child in Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Harmless Like You.

Nathan Hill’s The Nix explores American politics through the relationship between another mother and the son she left when he was eleven years old, reunited when she finds herself in the spotlight over two decades later

The Nix sounds very much like the name of a famous New York basketball team although it’s spelt Knicks. I know next to nothing about sport but I did enjoy Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland which sees a Dutchman take up cricket in New York City. When President Obama declared his love for the book, sales must have spiked way beyond O’Neill’s wildest dreams.

Not quite in Obama’s league, although it was once rumoured that she might stand for president, an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey must have been the stuff of dreams for authors when she was in her heyday. Not for Jonathan Franzen, though, who refused to have anything to do with her book club rather snottily declaring his novel, The Corrections, to be high art and therefore, presumably not for the Winfrey-watching hoi polloi.

This month’s Six Degrees of Separation has taken me from an unfinished nineteenth century novel to the story of a supremely dysfunctional family by a rather pleased-with-himself author. 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.

28 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – from Sanditon to The Corrections”

  1. Every time I hear about Franzen I dislike him more and more – don’t think he’ll ever make it onto my TBR, which he’ll no doubt be relieved about since I’m definitely hoi-polloi! Loved your links, especially Nix/Knicks, but the one that has left me traumatised is the idea of a hairless therapy cat…

    1. Thanks, and I feel the same about Mr Franzen although I have read The Corrections. The cat gets to wear a festive sweater at Christmas. I read that book well over two years ago but that scene has stayed with me.

  2. Brilliantly done Susan. Glancing at your pic first, my mind was racing ahead to work out the Hill – O’Neill – Franzen sequence (I couldn’t work it out and needed to read your clever links).

    I haven’t heard of Harmless Like You – is it one I might enjoy?

    1. Thank you so much, Kate! I think you would although you might also take a look at Starling Days which looks at the effects on both sides of a relationship when one of the partners is depressed. Beautifully done and heartfelt. I’ve reviewed it if you’re interested.

    1. Thanks, Ali. I didn’t despite being a fan of Andrew Davies’ adaptations. It did feel like a step too far to me given how little of Austen’s writing there was to adapt.

  3. Ive never read Jonathan Franzen but his reaction to that prize is enough to make me feel I won’t spend my money on him. I can’t bear the kind of snobbery towards ordinary readers he demonstrates.

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