TCL’s #6Degrees of Separation for May 1, 2021.

From “Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary to “Fall of Poppies” by various authors.

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 “Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary!

Beezus and RamonaThis month (May 1, 2021), the chain begins with Beezus and Ramona by the recently departed, Beverly Cleary. My apologies in advance because I seem to be one of the few people on the planet who never read any of her books, and to be totally honest, I never even heard of her before she died! Now, I’m not going to go out and read a children’s book just for this meme, but I promise that if I ever have grandchildren, I’ll keep her books in mind (and maybe my sister’s grandchildren might like these books, so I could recommend them to her). For good order’s sake, the blurb for this book is: “Having a little sister like four-year-old Ramona isn’t always easy for Beezus Quimby. With a wild imagination, disregard for order, and an appetite for chaos, Ramona makes it hard for Beezus to be the responsible older sister she knows she ought to be…especially when Ramona threatens to ruin Beezus’s birthday party. Will Beezus find the patience to handle her little sister before Ramona turns her big day into a complete disaster?” Hm… my sister has only grandsons. Maybe this one isn’t the best choice for any of them. Oh well… I’m sure she has others with male protagonists (doesn’t she?).

First Degree. 

Goodbye columbus newSince I don’t read children’s books these days, and I’ve only reviewed like… one, I think my next link should go to an author that I didn’t read before they died. That brings me immediately to the late, great Phillip Roth and his collection of short stories “Goodbye, Columbus.” Obviously, I had heard of Roth before he died, I just never read anything by him, although I have seen movies and TV series based on his books. What struck me about these stories (aside from the obvious misogyny that we can only see in hindsight) is how well they aged, since most of them have evergreen themes. However, with all due respect to Roth, and the quality of these stories, I don’t think I’ll be picking up another one of his books soon. (Despite this, I own a copy of The Plot Against America, but after watching the TV series, I think I might give it away – it is more of a “watch, don’t read” type of story for me.)

Second Degree.

4ab4c-vintage2bmunroKeeping with the short stories, here’s another author I came late to, Alice Munro. Thankfully, she’s still alive (and I wish her a very long life), I only read her short stories after she one the Nobel Prize for Literature. The book I read was a collection called “Vintage Munro” which included mostly stories she’d written earlier in her career, as well as one fairly new one (In Sight of the Lake, from Dear Life). Although I thought all of the stories were really beautiful, I think this wasn’t the best compilation because they seemed to be, well… short-sighted, with most of the stories spanning only 1985-2001. It seems to me that for such an acclaimed writer who has been publishing stories since 1950, the publishers could have been a touch more creative and more comprehensive. I would have preferred they had given us at least one story from each decade. So although this particular collection wasn’t all that great, I can’t discount her talent, and I certainly want to read more Munro.

Third Degree.

a009b-goingoutinstyle1-1Staying with collections of short stories, the next one that comes to mind is the first collection of stories I ever reviewed on my blog, which was posted just shortly after Munro won her Nobel Prize. That would be “Going Out in Style” by Daniel Kelly. This collection of tales all deal with endings – and not necessarily the final one, that being death. I appreciated how Kelly brought in different elements of the theme, and mixed in some musical references as well as literary ones. Kelly’s collection is so sadly overlooked, I’m glad I have this chance to highlight it here. By the way, my review was (I believe) the first time I said that “a carefully crafted short story is truly a thing of beauty” and I have repeated it many times since – both as praise for other writers and as an admonition to those who are less successful with the format.

Forth Degree.

Almost Famous WomenGoing from a short story collection by an overlooked author, to a short story collection about people who are overlooked takes me to “Almost Famous Women” by Megan Mayhew Bergman. As Bergman herself says in the introduction, the “stories in this collection are born of fascination with real women whose remarkable lives were reduced to footnotes.” She also says that she’s “fascinated by risk taking and the way people orbit fame.” What I loved about these stories was how some of these women get so close to truly well-known famous people, but never step into the limelight themselves. Some of them are frustrated by this distance, but others seem to preferred to have been left in the shadows. By the way, for an author who says she’s not totally comfortable writing historical fiction, she sure did a stellar job with these!

Fifth Degree.

Ribbons SmallSpeaking of women who were almost famous in history, brings me directly to another short story collection, but this one by various authors. I’m speaking about “Ribbons of Scarlet,” which is a collection about the women who were mostly, if not completely, behind the scenes of the French Revolution. The contributors to this collection were Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Heather Webb. What made this special was that each of the stories slightly overlapped the others, thereby almost turning it into a collaborative novel. My regular readers know that I just read my first book by Dray, and that I’m already quite a fan of Quinn and Webb. I think I’ll need to check out Kamoie, Knight, and Perinot now!

Sixth Degree. 

bb6fa-fall2bof2bpoppies“Ribbons of Scarlet” wasn’t the first collection of short stories by various authors that I read and reviewed. That would be “Fall of Poppies,” which has one common contributor – Heather Webb! The other authors are, Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Marci Jefferson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig. While these stories don’t combine into a type of novel, in one way or another, they all have to do with November 11, 1918 – the day that the Great War (aka World War I) ended. Also, while this book is also about and by women, it is also about love and friendship in the face of adversity, where some of these women were involved in the war, and others just had loved ones in the conflict. Here too there are a few authors I am still unfamiliar with and need to catch up with, since I truly loved each of the stories in this collection.

There you have it – my chain of books for this month. So… the question is, does this last book connect in any way back to our starting novel?

Well, Cleary’s books are short, since they’re for children, but other than that… nope. She just led me to a short story collection spree!

If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!

#6Degrees 01 May 2021

If you decide to join in on this meme, I hope you’ll give me the link to your post in the comments below, and/or put your link on the linky page that Kate has on her blog for this meme.

Next month (June 5, 2021), we will start with The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (yeah, finally another one I’ve read and reviewed)!

Bass Rock

48 thoughts on “TCL’s #6Degrees of Separation for May 1, 2021.

  1. I am another person who had never previously heard of Beverly Cleary! I have the excuse that I grew up in London, but even so – some people from the UK seem to have read her books, they must have passed me by.

    I have started to read more short stories, and I like the sound of the David Kelley book, I will look him up. Collections I have enjoyed recently are William Trevor’s ‘The News From Ireland’ and Penelope Mortimer’s ‘Saturday Lunch with the Brownings.’ I think it’s perhaps because both feature the kind of people and situations that I could recognise.

    I have had ‘The Story: Love, Loss and The Lives of Women: 100 great short stories chosen by Victoria Hislop’ on my pile since last summer, so I really should open it, as the library has now said books need to be returned by 31 May! There just always seems to be something more urgent – at the moment it’s The Bass Rock, which the library kindly got for me – I thought I should for once try to read the starter book first!

    Many years ago in Canada I took a writing class in which the tutor recommended Alice Munro as her favourite short story writer, so I did read some then, and always intended to read more – I have her ‘Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage’ waiting on my shelf.

    I think it was ingenious to start with Cleary and manage to create a whole chain of ‘adult’ short stories!

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    1. Thanks. And yes, for once I actually already read the next starter book. Got my whole chain ready, already, by the way! As for short stories, I’m a glutton for them… IF they’re done well. Hm… an anthology by Hislop? Hm… I wasn’t bowled over by her novels, so… hm…

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      1. You are so well organised! I usually start panicking on the Friday night!

        As for Hislop – no, I have never read any of her books and dont’ have any wish to, though they are frequently recommended. The collection I mentioned doesn’t actually contain any of her own stories, she’s the ‘curator’ for want of a better word. The authors include Katherine Mansfield, Angela Carter, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Jeanette Winterson, Hilary Mantel, Edna O’Brien….and lots more. I expect that’s why I borrowed it, but as I said, that’s as far as I got – hopeless!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not hopeless… just human. And as for having my #6Degrees ready… I just get inspired, that’s all! Yes, that does sound like a great anthology. I hope you get it back out of the library another time to read it.

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  2. Don’t panic, you are not the only one never to have heard of Beverly Cleary!

    I have a copy of “Almost Famous Women” that has stayed unread for many many years. It was one of the first I requested from Net Galley. I wasn’t sure whether it was fiction or fact??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I confess I’ve difficulty handling short story collections/ anthologies. I end up pausing after each story before moving on to the next one, which means the book keeps floating in my shelf forever! But how can I say no to Almost Famous Women? The idea of celebrating everyday heroes, the underdogs, the invisible heroes — esp. the womenfolk — that’s always a powerful motif. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t read many short story collections, but I would like to try Ribbons of Scarlet and Fall of Poppies as I’ve enjoyed other books by a few of those authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, what a wonderful chain. I have only read books by Philip Roth and Alice Munro (though not the ones you listed) but I am fascinated by “Almost Famous Women” and “Ribbons of Scarlet”, they sound intriguing, just the kind of reads I like (though I don’t usually care much for short stories).

    Thanks for visiting my Six Degrees of Separation . I’m looking forward to next month’s challenge, though I haven’t read this one, yet. It would have been my first. I seem to read different literature. One day, I tell myself, one day …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. FYI… Ribbons of Scarlet is good, but Fall of Poppies was better. (In my opinion, that is!) I’m looking forward to reading your next month’s chain!

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      1. Thank you, Davida, so do I. And thanks for the hint. I’ll have a look at both of them and when they cross my way, I will read them.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your The bass rock cover is very different to ours over here.

    Stupidly, I didn’t mention in my post that I had actually read ONE book by Clearly, her coming of age novel, Fifteen. I liked it, but by the time I discovered her I think I was mostly moving into adult novels.

    I haven’t read much Roth, but I have read and I did like The plot against America! As for wishing Alice Munro a good long life I agree. She has a few years before she catches up with Cleary.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Although I’ve read a book by Beverly Cleary, I’m glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t read Beezus and Ramona. 😁 It’s rare that I read short stories but your chain of short stories was full of interesting connections. I was intrigued by the short stories of overlooked women. I look forward to your June post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Davida, where did you grow up? I am surprised you never read any of Cleary’s books or had them read to you by a teacher.

    I like your chain, and although I am not a short story fan, I think I’d like Fall of Poppies because the Great War fascinates me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I grew up in Evanston, IL in the US. Funny thing, my sister saw this post and she was shocked that I’d never read any of these books, because she said they were “all over the house” and knew exactly which of these books she had read! Maybe because I was an annoying little sister, my parents got them for her but never handed them over to me. Who knows?

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  9. Well, I did go out and read a children’s book, but not just for this meme: I also needed a quick read to fulfill my reading quota for the month! Thanks for your chain. I don’t read many story collections. I keep thinking I should read more, but then there’s always a whole stack of juicy novels calling to me . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know, I’ve been recommending people read short stories when they say that they can’t concentrate on reading. The pandemic hits some people like that, while others look for the thickest books they can find to just bury themselves inside.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great theme for your chain. I’m getting more into short stories these days so will definitely be giving some of these a look. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One book that didn’t make this chain, that was FAB was Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress, and I just recently read and reviewed Patrick Gale’s Gentleman’s Relish, which is also great.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t read many short story collections, so this is a great source for me to find good ones. I have read one book by Alice Munro, which I loved – The View from Castle Rock – so her collection, Vintage Munro, looks the best book for me to look out for.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is good, but warning: not all of the older stories have aged all that well. Doesn’t mean they’re bad, just that they feel old, if you know what I mean.

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  12. Shrieking OM!! So many books I loved! I LOVE your approach this month. How amazing to find Goodbye Columbus [just up the road about two hours from here] to Almost Famous Women, to Ribbons of Scarlet and Fall of Poppies!! Wowsers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t decide if I prefer chains with books I know and love, or chains with books that I might put on my TBR list. I wasn’t crazy about all of the Roth stories, but some of them were fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Davida! Don’t worry, you are not the only person on the planet who haven’t read a book by Beverley Cleary. Neither have I! But I will take one from the school’s library this week and just give it a try.

    I used to love short stories in High School and when I was a student. Don’t know why I stopped reading them. I’m going to take a look at Almost famous Women. Sounds interesting!

    May you have a wonderful May!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Funny thing, when my sister saw my post, she said she remembers Cleary’s books very well. Maybe my parents decided that because I was an annoying baby sister they were what she needed! Who knows?

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