From “Postcards From the Edge” by Carrie Fisher to “Little Nothing” by Marisa Silver.
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:
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This month we start with Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher!
This month (August 7, 2021), the chain begins with “Postcards From the Edge” by Carrie Fisher. According to Goodreads: “Fisher beautifully brings readers the inside of Hollywood through a web of humor, drugs, relationships, Hollywood Party Terror, and much more. The plot centers on a 30-year-old actress named Suzanne Vale, and follows her challenges as she overcomes her drug addiction, gets back into the swing of things, and falls in love, sort of.” Now, I know that this is a semi-autobiographical novel, which was made into a movie staring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLane, but I never read the book and I dislike Streep in dramas, so I never saw the film either. Maybe I should… we’ll see. In any case, may Carrie’s memory and film legacy – both as an actor and as a writer – be a blessing for us all.
The first book that came to mind when I thought of Carrie Fisher’s novel, is that was semi-autobiographical. That’s what made me think of “Letters from the Fire” by Alma Alexander and R. A. (Deck) Deckert. This is the story of two people communicating during the bombing of Kosovo. Dave lives in the US, and Sasha is living in (the former) Yugoslavia. The book is written through emails and internet posts – and is technically the first novel ever written as an electronic epistolary book. This is also a fictionalized version of how Alma and Deck met and fell in love. I’ve been thinking of Alma lately because not long ago, her beloved Deck (whom she married not long after they published this book) passed away.
Since I don’t think I’ve read any other books set (at least partially) in the former Yugoslavia, I think my next link will be to a book with the word “letters” in the title. I think a good choice would be “Letters from Skye” by Jessica Brockmole. I was very impressed with this debut novel that spanned both World Wars, and was another epistolary novel, albeit with traditional letters and not emails. It was also nice to combine the stark beauty of Scotland with a character hailing from my home state of Illinois – albeit from Urbana, and not the Chicago area where I came from, but still… I liked that element of long distance correspondence.
From the Isle of Sky to another spot in Scotland, my next book is “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” by the one and only Rachel Joyce! In this novel, we see the other side of Harold Fry’s journey. You see, while Harold is in Cornwall, Queenie is in a hospice in Berwick, Scotland. The premise of this book isn’t to be a sequel to Harold Fry, but instead to tell the other side of the story – Queenie’s side, and her relationship with Harold. Told as a type of memoir that Queenie is writing, we get to understand why Harold would undertake to walk across Britain to say his goodbyes to her before she dies. If you have even half a heart, you’ll find this novel will move you to tears!
Starting out with the word ‘love’ from the previous book, and continuing with the idea of a journey and/or a destination, my next book is “All Russians Love Birch Trees” by Olga Grjasnowa. In this book, the protagonist Masha has certainly traveled a great deal – and she even ends up in Israel at one point. However, most of her trips are more like ways to run away from both her past and herself. This is a deeply introspective book, at least from Masha’s point of view, and one of the more unusual one’s I’ve ever read. I suppose you could call it a coming-of-age story, but I think that would be far too much of a generalization. Masha is very complex and, if you ask me, a character who is well worth getting to know.
So, how about an author’s name as a connection, for a change? Obviously, I don’t know any other author by the name of Grjasnowa, but earlier this year I read a book by another Olga. I’m talking about “The Charmed Wife” by Olga Grushin. The more I think about this book, the more I think it really needs more recognition. This is a type of re-telling of the Cinderella story, but it isn’t really a fairy tale, but it is, in a way a modernization of one. See, the book begins very much in the spirit of the original story, but poor Cindy is unhappy in her marriage to Prince Charming and her life in his luxurious castle. If that puts off any readers who – like me – don’t care for fantasy, let me assure you that the more you read, the less fantastical this book becomes!
Since I don’t generally read fantasy or fairy tale books, my choice for this last link is very limited. In fact, there are only two books that come to mind, and the one I’m going to choose is “Little Nothing” by Marisa Silver. I actually asked for the ARC of this book because her previous novel, Mary Coin, is one I really want to read (but I’ve never gotten around to getting myself a copy). This novel is quite fantastical, and I read it more like a fable than a fairy tale. The novel centers around Pavla, a dwarf born in an unnamed Slavic country, who lives a life filled with many types of transformations – both physical and emotional. Silver’s writing is highly intelligent, and just luscious. So again, even if you don’t care for this genre, you might still enjoy this book.