Six Degrees of Separation – from Like Water for Chocolate to Fear of Flying

It’s time for #6degrees. Join in and see which direction your book chain takes you.

This month we begin with Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Every so often, I see a movie before I read the book and this was one such book (I loved both).

A similar example is Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I haven’t read the book yet and although this might be the opportunity for a few gratuitous Bradley Cooper links, instead I’m jumping to another book by Quick, Boy 21.

I bought Boy 21 for my son (12 at the time) who is a picky reader. He was engrossed, so I suggested he find other titles the author had written (I didn’t realise it was the same Quick…). Anyway, when he said ‘Silver Linings’ I thought “Whoa! What was Boy 21 about?!”. Thankfully, Boy 21 is a YA book (phew) but probably more ‘mature’ than he’d have normally read, on account of the fact that “There was a bit of swearing, Mum. But it was in context.”

Which reminded my of A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. I read it at school. Somewhere in the book, there’s the word ‘fuck’. Every school text falls open to this page and I distinctly recall the day my friend was chosen to read the ‘fuck passage’ in class.

From kestrels to hawks – in Helen MacDonald’s memoir, H is for Hawk, she tells how training a goshawk became associated with grieving for her father.

Another book about birds and grieving is Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Now’s probably a good time to mention that I have a serious bird phobia.

On the topic of phobias and things with wings, my last link is to Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.

My chain started with something I love (chocolate, not Bradley Cooper…oh, wait…) but was dominated by the thing I fear most (birds). I wonder where other chains will lead? Link up below (or add your link in the Comments section).

Next month (November 4, 2017), we’ll begin with a controversial bestseller by a member of the eighties ‘literary Brat Pack’ – Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero.

45 responses

  1. Our chains went is such different directions this month! I look forward to seeing where everyone else’s led, as my could have gone in any number of directions in at least three places. I feel as though A Kestrel for a Knave is a book I should have read at school, but not sure I actually did.

    • Kes was actually good from memory but yes, a classic school text. I don’t know if I could go back and read it now without looking for themes and imagining the essays I had to write about it!

  2. Loved your chain, Kate, particularly the link to H is for Hawk (which I loved) and Grief is the thing with feathers (which I want to read). I used to have a bird phobia – I think it was multiple childhood visits to Currumbin on the Gold Coast that did it, but I’ve developed quite a love for them. I feel, though, that Currumbin would still challenge me.

    I’ve heard of Bret Easton Ellis, of course, but not that book, so I’ll have to research what it is about OR just go with the title or some other obvious thing!

    BTW My Six Degrees post is:

    • Currumbin is my idea of living hell! I just can’t do those sorts of places. I used to live next door to a psychiatrist who spent years trying to convince me to ‘face my fear’ and get over the bird phobia – frustrated him that I was okay to live with it (and simply avoid going to places like Currumbin!).

      I haven’t read H is for Hawk or Grief… I know both have had great reviews but really not sure if I want to read about birds when I have so many other books in the TBR stack. Now, what was I saying about my phobia not impacting on my life…?!

  3. I like your choices but I went on a completely differnt path. I went to Chocolat by Joanne Harris, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, and then followed by two children’s books. Lucy’s Loose Tooth by Sue Ling Ng, and The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss. Ending withs White Teeth by Zadie Smith

  4. I’ll be curious to see how many of us came to LWFC thanks to the movie.

    Next month will be a good challenge as I know next to nothing about the book or the author!

    • Easton Ellis has written lots of controversial books (I’m sure you recall the fuss when American Psycho was released? And when an anniversary edition came out a year or so ago?). Less Than Zero was mild in comparison to what followed but it very much represented the eighties. There was a movie as well, featuring the Brat Pack – (it looks sooooo dated now but ace 80s fashion!).

  5. Kate, I had never heard of Like Water for Chocolate before! As usual my chain is not a bit like yours and ends up with a spy novel. I have a bit of a phobia about birds – not when they’re free and flying outside, but when they are cage birds let out to fIy in a room – I cannot bear the sound of their wings or have them come anywhere near me. I also hate to see birds in captivity, which is one reason I disliked H is for Hawk – especially the way birds of prey are trained. It seems so cruel to me.

    • I’ve had lots of people recommend H is for Hawk to me Margaret, but you’re the first to voice the little concern sitting in the back of my mind about this book and birds in captivity. I’ve always struggled with circus animals being caged and trained for our amusement. I can cope with zoos that focus on breeding programs and have more natural style environments, but only just.

      Perhaps this book is not for me after all.

      • Brona, we read H is for Hawk at my local book group and there were just two of us who didn’t like it. the description of how Helen Macdonald trained her hawk, Mabel, came over as a battle of wills, as she kept Mabel indoors in a darkened room, in a hood, on a perch or restrained on a leash for much of the time. It was a physical battle too that evoked rage, violence and frustration. These are wild birds and to my mind shouldn’t be treated like that.

        I feel the same way about circus animals and am very uncomfortable with zoos.

    • If you ever have the chance to read/ see Like Water for Chocolate, I think you’ll find it quite lovely. I’m not into magic realism as a rule, but Like Water was something special.

      Like you, birds in captivity give me the absolute horrors. Any kind of birds of prey displays, walk-though aviaries, hen houses, or those places where tropical birds eat seed from your head are my WORST NIGHTMARE. It’s wings near my head and the panicky flapping that is the problem. I haven’t actually read H is for Hawk or Grief is the Thing with Feathers because I don’t even want to think about birds!

  6. I haven’t heard of any of these books except I gave my (ex) wife Fear of Flying about 20 years ago and she still tells me how much she hated it (pretentious, she says, I still haven’t read it)

    • I haven’t actually read it Bill but it certainly seems to be a book that people have STRONG reactions to! My understanding is that it was considered a great feminist novel but, after reading a bunch of recent reviews (people are still reviewing it), the general consensus is that it hasn’t stood the test of time and is very dated now. I’m almost tempted to read it…

  7. I don’t like birds either (beady eyes, flappy wings, ugh) but a great chain none the less! I’ve read 4 and liked them all – I haven’t read Silver Linings (liked the film though), Boy 21 or Fear of Flying, but as you say in another reply, I heard its dated badly so I probably won’t bother with the latter. I really feel like re-reading LWFC now 🙂

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    • I’ve read such great reviews of H is for Hawk (although a few comments on this post suggest it didn’t get universal love from book bloggers!). It will probably be one that I eventually borrow from the library.

      Thanks for joining in.

  9. Pingback: Six Degrees of Separation: Like Water for Chocolate – Hopewell's Public Library of Life

  10. Am joining it somewhat belatedly, as I forgot to connect earlier. I’ve started a full-time job with a bit of a lengthy commute and am finding it hard to get around to reading all the blogs. But be patient with me, I will join in!

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  12. Grief is the Thing with Feathers is an amazing book. Not so much bird exposure, just a crow who can communicate. The novel led me to Ted Hughes’s poem.

    I read A Kestrel for a Knave in school, too. They also showed us the film afterwards.

    First time putting together a six degrees. I enjoyed it, and I went a different route, too. Off to read the others now.

    Here’s mine:

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