Six Degrees of Separation – Western Lane to Water

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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We’re starting with Chetna Maroo’s Booker-shortlisted Western Lane, a quietly perceptive novel about grief and squash but mainly grief.

Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding is another novel which features a talented young sports person but is much more about relationships than baseball.

The title of Harbach’s book is my link to Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones whose hero gets himself in all sorts of trouble. It’s often described as a picaresque novel.

As is Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy which begins with the eponymous hero’s conception.

Kate Atkinson has said she was heavily influenced by Sterne’s novel when writing Behind the Scenes at the Museum which also begins with the narrator’s conception.

Atkinson’s book won the late lamented Costa First Novel Award (then known as the Whitbread). The last winner was Caleb Azumah Nelson’s lovely Open Water.

Whose title leads me to John Boyne’s Water about the wife of a child abuser which I reviewed earlier this week. It’s the first in a four-novella series each of which takes its name from an element.

This month’s Six Degrees has taken me from a Booker shortlisted novel about grief to a novella about a woman attempting to hide from her husband’s appalling behaviour. 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.

22 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – Western Lane to Water”

    1. Thank you! The Harbach was one of those novels I had to read for work when I was a magazine reviews editor. I was very reluctant, not being the least bit interested in sport, but loved it.

  1. Love the Fielding link – very clever. I didn’t know about the inspiration for Behind the Scenes at the Museum, but then I wouldn’t because it’s been sitting on my bookshelves unread for more years than I care to mention…

  2. Very interesting chain, Susan. I liked the direction it took. I’ve read the Fielding and Sterne ages ago. Behind the Scenes at the Museum and The Art of Fielding (loved how you went to Tom Jones from there) seem well worth looking up.

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