From “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart to “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald.
This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:
- Link the books together in any way you like.
- Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favourite and Best.
- Share these rules in your post.
- Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
- Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
- Share you post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
- Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.
THANKS FOR PLAYING!
This month we start with “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart!
This month (April 3, 2021), the chain begins with “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart. The blurb for this book on one site is: “It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.” I haven’t read this Booker Prize winning novel, and from this blurb, I’m not sure that I will – sounds a bit too dark for me, to be honest. However, as a starting point, it does have possibilities!
Speaking of dark and Glasgow, the first book that comes to mind is “The Cutting Room” by Louise Welsh! As I note in my review, despite the title, this story has nothing to do with motion picture film editing; this is about crime, pornography, erotica, sex, and money with a mystery thrown in for good measure. It is all about an auctioneer going into a home only to find some very disturbing pictures, that lead him down a rabbit hole of a mystery. While I found this to be a bit too dark for my taste (and hence my relatively low rating), I believe that Welsh is an amazing writer, and people who like these types of stories will truly enjoy her writing.
Moving from Glasgow, Scotland to Sydney, Australia, we get another mystery that also includes an auction house in Tara Moss’ novel “The War Widow” which is the first in her new Billie Walker detective novels. Now, I’m really not one for the thriller genre, and the main reason I asked for this book was because I’ve long wanted to read more Australian writers. But who can resist a tough female detective, right? So, even though this was well outside of my comfort zone, I really enjoyed how she had me on the edge of my seat. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series, and I hope I can get the ARC to that one as well, because Billie Walker is a bad-a** detective!
Staying in Australia, but moving from Sydney to Melbourne, and going backwards in time from after WWII to the roaring 20s, we also switch from a professional detective to an amateur one, in the form of Phryne Fisher. I’m also talking about the first book in that series, “Cocaine Blues” by Kerry Greenwood. Now, to be totally frank, while this was a fun book, it wasn’t really my thing, and I decided that I wouldn’t bother continuing to read these books. However, my husband and I are now totally hooked and binging on the TV series. I only wish there were more than just three seasons, because I could surely go on watching more of them! (On the other hand, maybe I could just read more of these books.)
I think my next link will use the title of the last one, and since I don’t have any other books with Cocaine in the title, the book I’m choosing is “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler. Many of Tyler’s fans were very worried to hear that Tyler had intended this to be the last book she was ever going to write, and keep writing it and never publishing the book. Her idea was to write the story of the Whitshaw family in reverse, starting with the most contemporary part, and then working backwards ad infinitum. However, after she finished the third generation, she realized she didn’t want to go any further back. Good thing, because this is one of my favorite novels of hers. If she’d never finished it, we’d never have been able to read it!
Another book that looks at many generations in one place is Fannie Flagg’s “The Whole Town’s Talking” which I called her Elmwood Springs retrospective book. Flagg wrote several books that take place in the town of Elmwood Springs, but in this one, she starts at the beginning with the founding of the town and takes it right up to 2020 (well, as best she could. She didn’t predict the pandemic, but I don’t think that would have changed her novel much). This was an absolutely delightful read from start to finish, and if you’ve read any of her books set in this fictional Missouri town of hers, you’ll love “meeting” up again with some of your old friends from those books.
For my final link, let’s stick with a very small-town element, but move from one in Missouri to one in Iowa for “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald. The difference between this and Flagg’s book, is that Flagg shows the rise and fall of Elmwood Springs, where Bivald comes to Broken Wheel when it is already in decline. What makes this story so charming is that Bivald envisions a scenario where this total stranger is able to breathe at least a little bit of life back into this decaying town. Obviously, she does this through her love of books, and by helping the residents of this town discover how they can enrich their lives and strengthen their sense of community, through the stories that books contain, and their mutual enjoyment of reading.