Six Degrees of Separation – from Never Let Me Go to the Art of Fielding


It’s time for #6Degrees – I promise it’s ace fun, so join in and link up!

We begin this month’s chain with Kazuo Ishiguro’s creepy Never Let Me Go – is it a glimpse into the future? It seems too far-fetched but there were elements of the story that felt horribly possible, as there were in Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last.

One of the funniest parts of Atwood’s novel is the use of Elvis and Marilyn impersonators as characters. Marilyn is the focus of Colin Clark’s memoir, My Week With Marilyn.

Marilyn was apparently a keen reader. I haven’t read many of the books that were listed as part of her library, however one that caught my eye was How To Talk at Gin by Ernie Kovacs. Alas, it’s about gin rummy, not gin gin.

A card game features in Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, although the game is more about codified glances around the table than the cards in hand.

I love (love, love) Henry James and over the years have worked my way through all of his books. Needless to say I was crushed to discover that one of my favourite contemporary authors, John Irving, found James incredibly tedious (it’s mentioned somewhere in Irving’s memoir, The Imaginary Girlfriend, but referred to again in this interview). Obviously it’s ridiculous to expect my favourite authors to like each other but…

The Imaginary Girlfriend focuses on Irving’s time as a college wrestler. Another book that examines college and sports is Chad Harbach’s brilliant novel, The Art of Fielding (if you haven’t yet read it, do).

From future worlds and the glamour of the fifties, to favourite authors and universities – where will other chains lead?

Next month (December 3rd, 2016), the chain will begin with the Richard Yates modern classic, Revolutionary Road.

57 responses

  1. Pingback: 6 Degrees of Separation: Never Let Me Go | Treefall Writing

    • Thanks for joining in Melinda. Very much liked the fact that your chain ended with a kids book – I think I really need to try thinking more broadly in terms of kids books, plays, poems next time (the best I’ve ever done is the movie/book link).

  2. And I posted mine on time too, with, I hope, a link back to you. Hope you got it.

    I enjoyed your connections, and love how succinct you have been with them. I seem to suffer from verbal diarrhoea when it comes to things like this! A responder on my post said they’d go to Margaret Atwood too for their first book, but not the one you chose.

    I may not do Revolutionary Road, since I haven’t read it, and I’d rather stick with books I’ve read. But you never know.

  3. I enjoy Irving and James’ novels too, but haven’t read anywhere near as many of them as you!!
    I love that we both finished our #6degrees with an admonishment to read this book now 🙂
    I’ll check out yours, if you check out mine 😉

    • Hi Brona, I tried adding this comment to your blog, but am not sure if I was successful, so will post here as well to make sure you know I read your 6 Degrees: I was interested to hear your opinion of Never Let Me Go, as I was thinking I should read it, but am not sure I will now! You’ve reminded me that I have a copy of Heat and Light sitting on my shelf, too. Is On the Beach worth reading? I recently wrote a blog post about dystopian fiction set in Australia, and am wondering whether it should have been on my list.

      • I definitely think it’s worth reading (you can click on the link in my 6 degrees post & it will take you to my review). The language is a little dated – very 50’s, but chilling in its calmness nonetheless.

      • I had great trouble commenting too Brona – it kept rejecting me and finally after about 5 attempts it worked. I could reply wiht my Google moniker but that’s not what I want to do. I want my reply to link to my blog.

      • Heat and light is fantastic, Melinda. On the beach is a classic, but I’m a bit more negative than Brona I think. I was a huge Nevil Shute fan in my teens and I think I read every novel he wrote. I just loved his books. But I reread On the beach in the last decade and was so so disappointed. BUT the dystopian aspect is still valid so if you want to cover Australian dystopian fiction then I agree with Brona that it is worth reading,

    • Hi Brona, I have read yours, but Blogger, it defeats me and I cannot comment there. Do come over to WordPress so that we can chat about your books more easily, truly it is so easy to switch!

      • I have been thinking about it Lisa, but worry about posts or links I might lose. I have a photography blog that I thought I might experiment with first. Any tips before I take the plunge ?

      • Do back everything up first though – if you have a very large archive to transfer over, the importing process can lose stuff…. as I found out. However I kept my old blog running until I’d reposted what I wanted that was missing.

      • Good advice. I hadn’t been blogging very long when I abandoned Blogger so it wasn’t an issue for me, though I do remember the anxiety. But it’s worth it. Serious book bloggers are a WP community who all network with each other:)

      • I think blogger wants everyone to comment using their google + account.

        I have had the same issue with WordPress over the years – I had to get an account with them so I could comment on all the wordpress blogs out there.
        I just linked my blogger url to the gravatar I used (although I haven’t checked it for a while, so I hope that’s how it still works).

        It is a pain having to move between the two accounts though to comment on the different blogs. And now some people are using Disqus, which has meant another account (although I linked it to my google + in the end to make my blogging life easier).

        I did look at the moving over process recently, but realised I was going to need time to think it through properly and time to deal with the inevitable glitches. Maybe in the new year….

        Thank you for letting me know your difficulties.

      • I loathe Disqus. I won’t use it. And I deliberately stay logged out of Google as much as I can because I hate the way it tracks everything we do online.
        Anyway, let me know if there’s anything I can help you with when you do decide to change… one thing I forgot to tell you is that you can keep your old blog running while you tidy up anything that needs fixing. The most important thing to remember is to have a widget for people to subscribe my email and follow you!

      • I loathe Disqus as well and I do not have a Google account at all so if blogs use that, I don’t leave a comment.
        I have used both Blogger and WordPress before and overall, I find the back-end of WordPress cleaner and more intuitive than Blogger.

      • Yes, that’s it, Brona, as Kate has said. I too find the back end of WordPress so much nicer to use, though they keep playing with it. I still run a Blogger blog for my reading group. It was because of that experience that when I started my own I decided to try WordPress. I thought about swapping over the Blogger one after that, but my co-users are mostly not very tech savvy so, since, we don’t have a big commenting community, but use it primarily as a record, I haven’t worried about changing it over.

        I just avoid anything disqus related. I usually can comment on blogger blogs with my WordPress account. I’ve not usually found that hard because they usually have a WordPress and/or a Name/URL option, but it’s almost impossible to be notified then of responses to my comments, and I hate that because I’m just not prepared to try to remember which ones I commented on to go looking to see if the blogger has responded.

  4. Pingback: Six Degrees of Separation, from Never Let Me Go , to…. | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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  6. So smart. Do you spend days scratching your head about these, Kate, or do they come to you in a flash, or maybe percolate away in the back of your head for a while? Whichever it is, I always enjoy them. Thanks!

  7. I do enjoy doing this meme! I also thought elements of Never Let Me Go felt horribly possible – and horrifying. I haven’t read any of the books in your chain, although I have seen the film, My Week with Marilyn – I hadn’t realised it was also a book – it’s going on my wishlist.

    • Thanks Margaret!

      I haven’t read the Marilyn book (yet) but bought it after seeing the film. I thought the film was excellent – too often movies about Marilyn depict her in a very one dimensional way but this film managed to avoid that.

    • I was hoping the movie element might make it a little easier! Funny how some months the links just follow one after the other (or go in multiple directions) and then sometimes you get stuck. If that happens, I try dropping the last link and going in a different direction.

  8. I love that you managed to get Marilyn Monroe, gin (albeit sadly not the drink), and John Irving into your chain. I also very much approve of the starting book for next month (which I actually almost ended up using in my chain this month).

    • Well you’ll have lots of ideas for next month’s chain if you’re already thinking Revolutionary Road! (and I can see why it almost made your chain this time).

  9. Excellent links! I really want to read The Golden Bowl after Damon Young mentioned it a bit in this book, The Art of Reading. The only other James I’ve read was The Turn of the Screw and I didn’t exactly love it. But I think The Golden Bowl sounds much more enjoyable.

    There’s nothing like discovering someone you admire doesn’t like the work of someone else you admire. But I prefer that to finding out that someone you don’t really like loves the work of someone you love (does that make sense?). It’s happened to me and it’s made me reassess my whole opinion of that person. It’s very conflicting.

    • The Turn of the Screw is quite different to the majority of novels by James – they tend to be drawing-room dramas. Golden Bowl, Bostonians, Europeans are all more representative of his style.

      Re: what people admire…. The worst situation is when people you like, like something you HATE. (I had to reassess many friendships when Fifty Shades of Grey was released….)

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