Six Degrees of Separation – From Second Place to Wait for Me, Jack

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 Rachel Cusk’s Booker Prize longlisted, Second Place, which I haven’t read, not being a Cusk fan, but I gather it’s about a woman who invites a celebrated male artist to spend the summer in her remote coastal home.

I’m sure there’s a strong streak of feminism running through Cusk’s novel as there is through Siri Hustvedt’s erudite The Blazing World which challenges male privilege in the art world.

The Heather Blazing was my first Colm Tóibín, the one which made me fall in love with his writing. It’s about an Irish judge looking back over a life scarred by the death of his father.

Also set in Ireland, John McGahern’s Amongst Women is about the death of another father as his family gather round the tyrannical patriarch who’s left such a mark on their lives.

You might need to hear the title of the next one to get the link. Malachy McCourt’s A Monk Swimming continues the story of his life begun in his brother Frank’s much better known misery memoir, Angela’s Ashes.

Brother of the More Famous Jack sprang to mind for my next link, Barbara Trapido’s sweet coming-of-age novel about a young woman who comes to understand that looks are far from everything.

Addison Jones’ Wait for Me, Jack is at the other end of the age scale, telling the story of Jack and Milly’s marriage from 2015 to when they first met in 1950.

This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a Booker-longlisted novel on the irresistible (for me) theme of art to a portrait of a long marriage, another theme that interests me. 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.

38 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From Second Place to Wait for Me, Jack”

  1. Morning Susan, and thanks for another great chain. I’m in a bit of a blogging slump at the moment so have not done my own this month, but have very much enjoyed reading yours, especially that middle link! And, as ever, plenty here to add to the TBR pile grrrrr Wishing you a great weekend.

    1. Morning, Liz. Thank you – I was very pleased with that one. Hope you’ll be out of your blogging slump soon. I’m currently heading your way on the first leg of my journey to Edinburgh!

          1. Wonderful! I hope the remainder of your journey was smooth and that you have a fabulous stay. And if you have time (and would like to of course), how about meeting for a coffee/glass of something?

          2. Ah, thanks to Covid spontaneity is mostly out of the window and we’re pretty well booked up for the week. From what I’ve already seen, I’m sure I’ll visit again and I’ll make sure to let you know in advance.

  2. Very clever! Like your other commenters, I’m most impressed by that middle link. I’m terrible myself at doing these kind of chains but I very much enjoy reading those of other bloggers.
    I’ve read a few links in your chain: Siri Hustvedt’s Blazing World (quite an undertaking but worth it); Toíbín’s Heather Blazing & Brother of the More Famous Jack. I liked all three, for entirely different reasons. McGahern’s Amongst Women has been on my TBR for some time . . .

    1. Thank you! I was delighted when that one popped into my head, have to confess. Amongst Women’s not an easy read but it’s the one that converted me to McGahern’s writing.

  3. I only ever read one John McGahern novel. It’s been years since I read it, and I think if I try him again it will be with Amongst Women.

  4. I’m halfway through Second Place and have thought frequently about the parallels between it and Blazing World… although there’s one major difference – I’m finding Second Place readable! (I abandoned Blazing very early on – something I rarely do). From memory, only one person in my book group got through it.

    1. Oh, that’s Interesting. I may have to read it after all. I know what you mean about Blazing World. I stuck with it because I’m such a Hustvedt fan and it paid off for me but it’s far from an easy read.

  5. As always your chain includes plenty of books I’ve not heard of including the Colm Toibin. Yet another tittle to add to my wishlist. Wait For Me Jack also sounds good – refreshing to have a book about older people in love (the kids can’t have it all can they!!)

  6. I too enjoyed the link to A Monk Swimming – absolutely brilliant! I haven’t read anything by Colm Tóibín yet, but I’ve seen The Magician quite a lot recently and might give it a try.

  7. With such a generous overlap between our reading tastes, there are usually at least one or two titles I’ve read in your list, but here I’ve read none (although the Husvedt has come close a couple of times) and, so, would happily snuggle up with your whole line for a week or so. Heheh Now that would make a fun project!

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