Six Degrees of Separation – Hydra to Vacuum in the Dark

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 Adriane Howell’s Stella Prize shortlisted Hydra which I’ve not read but I gather is about a young woman who loses her way when her career falters taking herself off to an isolated beachside cottage which seems to be haunted.

Which puts me in mind of Sara Baume’s A Line Made by Walking in which another lost young woman decides to live alone, this time in her grandmother’s dilapidated cottage.

Baume’s most recent novel, Seven Steeples, was longlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction alongside Fiona Kennedy’s brilliant Trespasses set in the Troubles which explores the sectarian divide through an affair.

As does Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo, set in a Glasgow neighbourhood where Catholics and Protestants are as strictly divided.

Glasgow takes me to Anne Donovan’s Buddha Da whose dialect was so skilfully done I had a Glaswegian voice in my head for weeks after reading it.

Louise Welsh’s The Cutting Room also has a very distinctive narrative voice in the snarky Rilke and is also set in Glasgow.

I usually avoid sequels but made an exception for Welsh’s The Second Cut which was superb. Less successful was Jen Beagin’s Vacuum in the Dark, the follow-up to the excellent Pretend I’m Dead.

This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a novel set in a spooky beach house to a one about a woman who cleans for a living. 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.

26 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – Hydra to Vacuum in the Dark”

    1. Thanks, Cathy. Such different novels but so similar in the way they portrayed sectarianism. I’m so pleased that Trespasses has got so much attention.

  1. Dialects are quite hard to do well in writing, so nice to see one where it was well done. I like that you had another book with a lost soul in a dilapidated home to start off with!

  2. I haven’t read any of these but I did enjoy Louise Welsh’s Naming the Bones so maybe I should try The Cutting Room.

    1. Ah, I’ve not read Naming the Bones so can’t compare but I loved The Cutting Room. If you like the sound of a snarky narrators who knows lots of dodgy people but has a strong sense of conscience, I think you’d like it!

      1. mementominnie

        The third book in the Rilke trilogy has one of the saddest scenes in (my long)literary history.Also one of the most disturbing..not for the swooning set!

  3. I have been meaning to read The Cutting Room so appreciate the reminder.

    The only one of these I have read is Trespasses. It was very readable but so depressing!

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