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.
This month we’re starting with Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which, given that it’s a ghost story, seems appropriate as we enter Halloween month. Although I was impressed by James’ novel about two apparently possessed young children and their governess it was the film starring Deborah Kerr that scared me witless.
Which leads me to quite possibly the most terrifying piece of fiction I’ve read, Helen Oyeyemi‘s The Icarus Girl in which a little girl has a particularly malicious imaginary friend. Admittedly, I’m a coward but Lesley Glaister, no slouch at putting the frighteners on her readers, described it as ‘the most haunting and disturbing novel I’ve ever read’.
Oyeyemi secured a place at Corpus Christi, Cambridge despite producing her first novel while studying for her A-levels. Not quite so young but still something of a prodigy, Téa Obreht was barely twenty-five when she won what was then the Orange Prize with The Tiger’s Wife, the story of a young woman whose grandfather dies in mysterious circumstances which she feels compelled to investigate.
Sticking with both prize-winners and tigers, Aravind Adfiga’s Man Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger follows a bright young boy from his village to the glitzier parts of Delhi as he chauffeurs his wealthy boss who he decides to murder.
Zadie Smith’s White Teeth was one of those much-hyped debuts it was impossible to ignore back in 2001. Set against the vivid backdrop of multicultural London, Smith’s novel tells the story of one family spanning three generations. It more than lived up to all the brouhaha for me.
Smith’s On Beauty was an homage to E M Forster’s Howard’s End which could be a link in itself but I’m choosing to go with the teeth stuck in the tree outside the eponymous house belonging to the wealthy Wilcox family in this sad story of economic and social division.
My final link is to a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time, Susan Hill’s Howard’s End Is on the Landing about the author’s year of reading the books on her shelves rather than buying any new ones. Haven’t we all decided to do that now and again?
This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a ghost story to a year’s book-buying ban. 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.