Six Degrees of Separation – From The Lottery to The Quiet American

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 Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery which I haven’t read but I gather is about a small town whose annual lottery sees a citizen selected at random who meets a horrible fate. A suitably chilling choice for Halloween month.

Luke Rhinehardt’s ‘70s cult classic The Dice Man is all about chance as its main protagonist makes his decisions based on the throw of a die.

Leading me to the I Ching or Book of Changes, a divinatory text consulted by throwing six coins pointing to a reading, depending on how they fall.

The I Ching popped up in the TV series Mad Men as did Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything about four young women who arrive in New York in the 1950s, one of the many books read by the enigmatic Don Draper.

Exploring similar themes, Anna Hope’s Expectation follows three friends who share a house in London after graduation. Very different from both her previous novels, the first of which was set in the First World War.

Leading me to Erich Maria Remarque’s classic All Quiet on the Western Front which follows a young German boy from the schoolroom into the trenches.

Graham Greene’s The Quiet American is set in 1950s Indochina during the build-up to another war which a naïve young CIA agent is hoping to help prevent.

This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a cult ‘70s classic to another classic set in ‘50s Indochina. 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.

31 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From The Lottery to The Quiet American”

  1. I’m familiar with All Quiet on the Western Front and The Quiet American. I’ve been meaning to read one of Anna Hope’s books but never got around to it. I enjoyed your chain!

  2. Oh my god, as a bookseller in the late 1980s / early 1990s I must have sold hundreds of The Dice Man – it was such a cult classic! I’ve not read it myself though.

  3. what an interesting chain! I had The Dice Man to read at one stage, but I don’t know what happened to it. It isn’t on my shelves now.

  4. Have you not read Shirley Jackson because she’s not commonly discussed over there, would you say? I happened on a battered pocketbook at the library one evening, on a browse, and read it on the bus the next day, to another humdrum day at my first “real job” and, sheesh, what a shocking tone/voice/style. So clear and precise (I think you’d like the part of it) and so devilishly unsettling in the most ordinary ways.

    1. I’ve read the deeply unsettling The Haunting of Hill House and have accumulated other titles on my list but, as ever, it’s a case of so many books etc. Lots of bloggers I follow love her work.

  5. Goodness, your I Ching link has just given me a flashback to an old last-of-the-hippies boyfriend whose memory I thought I had succeeded in expunging from my mind! Please don’t mention Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance next time or I’ll need to go into therapy… 😉

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