Six degrees of separation:
from Glasgow to fire
Sometimes, the book we have to use to start the chain is challenging for my own rules. So to start this one, I decided to go with another author whose first name is Douglas.
So I started in Glasgow, and ended up with a French philosopher!
Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).
Here are my own quirky rules:
1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck
Links will send you to my review or to the relevant Goodreads page
1. Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
“Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good–her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits–all the family has to live on–on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her–even her beloved Shuggie.
A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Edouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell. ”
2. Shadows Walking, by Douglas R. Skopp
So as explained above, I went with another Douglas.
Here are excepts from my review:
Let me tell you right away that if you are interested in German history, in the Nazi era, and in what happened then, you need absolutely to read this novel. Fruit of 20 years of study and work, it is extremely rich and multi-layered.
Skopp translates extremely well how the characters evolved and let themselves slowly but surely get trapped in foolish and evil ideas, ideas that appeared good at first. The whole Nazi system is presented in its scary logical cold reasoning, leaving no room for empathy or humanistic thoughts.
It is unfortunately not too difficult to do some transposition, and think about the consequences some political logical decisions could have…
The whole theme of dreams, delusions, and fantasy is omnipresent. There’s also a lot on the themes of religion and violence.
The ending is very clever, like a sword of Damocles you may have expected for a while…
3. The Black Lizard / Beast in the Shadows
I just read this book last week, but unfortunately, haven’t reviewed it yet. These were my first two stories by Edogawa Rampo, a brilliant Japanese author of classic mysteries. So so clever!!
“Two Golden Age classics from Japan’s grand master of mystery. Edogawa Rampo (pseudonym of Hirai Taro, 1894-1965) is the acknowledged grand master of Japan’s golden age of crime and mystery fiction. In the early part of his career, he created the Japanese gothic mystery, developing the work of Edgar Allan Poe and related nineteenth century writers in a distinctly Japanese form. This part of his career coincided with a great flowering in Japanese literature and culture, a relatively free and uninhibited popular press being a defining feature of the times. In this context, Rampo’s dark vision and extravagant grotesquery found an avid readership, and had a profound influence on other writers.
The Black Lizard, a master criminal as deadly as she is beautiful, wagers all in an epic battle with a master detective.
A mystery writer vows to protect the woman he secretly loves from the Beast in the Shadows, but disaster strikes when he turns detective himself.”
4. The Lady Agnès Mystery vol 1: Book 1. The Season of the Beast
Excerpts from my review:
I read this book because of my love for nature and hiking, and also solitary life. I found all this in the book, but much more! I learned a lot about fire management.
I enjoyed the author’s beautiful prose as he contemplates and scrutinizes the horizon at the top of his tower, for several months every year, in New Mexico.
This book was a big revelation for me, I loved it to pieces. I was 17 at the time (so that’s a long time ago!!). Indeed, during the last year of high school. all French students had to study philosophy.
““[Bachelard] is neither a self-confessed and tortured atheist like Sartre, nor, like Chardin, a heretic combining a belief in God with a proficiency in modern science. But, within the French context, he is almost as important as they are because he has a pseudo-religious force, without taking a stand on religion. To define him as briefly as possible – he is a philosopher, with a professional training in the sciences, who devoted most of the second phase of his career to promoting that aspect of human nature which often seems most inimical to science: the poetic imagination …” – J.G. Weightman, The New York Times Review of Books”
– that’s the synopsis featured on Goodreads.
I must admit, I’ve never heard of Bachelard, despite of having read some philosophy. The debate of science vs religion is always an interesting one, although I’ve never seen a real contradiction myself.
I don’t see a contradiction either. Bachelard’s style is actually very poetic, meditative, at least as I remember it
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You have done it again!
I should read Fire Season. The college I chose was not a good fit for me but I stuck it out anyway. I never found my place in campus life. I remember a meeting with one of my senior advisors who told me that he and my other professors felt like they didn’t know me at all. He said, “You’re one of the most alone people I’ve ever met. Not that you seem lonely. But like you’d be perfectly content working as a lookout on a fire tower somewhere.” I think he knew me better than he realized because I would be happy working a job like that.
That’s my type of dream job as well, in the middle of nature, and nowhere, though I would love internet connection to blog about books lol
It’s always interesting to see where these go. I should read Fire season because I’m kind of fascinated with such a solitary yet important job. And like others have said, I don’t think the solitude would bother me at all, although I’m sure it’s not for everybody.
Definitely a gorgeous book. If you like the theme of solitude, I repeat my encouragement to read this book on Siberia. Fabulous writing, even in translation – I have read several books by this author, in French and or in English: https://wordsandpeace.com/2013/09/10/the-consolations-of-the-forest-book-review/
As always, a great chain. (I was worried about how you’d do the first link, but going through the author worked well.)
There’s always a way out 😉
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Oooh, Edogawa Ranpo! Yes – look forward to reading your review of this Japanese classic.
This was a big and fun discovery for sure!
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Nice chain. I was thinking about going with names but always ended somewhere at a dead end.
My Six Degrees of Separation led me to Dreams of a Red Chamber by Xuequin Cao.
Yes, sometimes I also need to try one road, and change route along the way
Well, I have only done three lists so far, I’m sure I’ll find all sorts of ways to get around. It’s always been fun, so thanks for introducing this.
Well done for finding a way around that difficult first link. I struggled too initially to find a way to get going
There’s always a way, lol