Six Degrees of Separation: From ‘The Road’ to ‘Twins’

Six degrees of separation logo for memeIt’s the first Saturday of the month, which means it’s time to take part in Six Degrees of Separation, a book-themed meme hosted by Kate from booksaremyfavouriteand best.

Every month Kate chooses a particular book as a starting point. The idea is then to create a chain by linking to six other books using common themes.

Here’s this month’s #6Degrees. As ever, click the book titles to read my review of that book in full.

The starting point is:

‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
I read this novel when it first came out. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it charts the treacherous journey of a man and his young son who follow the road south in search of a warmer climate. It’s a very bleak and chilling book. Another book set in a post-apocalyptic world is…

Cover image of Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti

‘Anna’ by Niccolò Ammaniti (2017)
It is four years after a flu-like virus has wiped out the world’s adult population. There’s no electricity, no transport, no food. The world is run by children, who fight among themselves for survival, and dangerous feral dogs roam the countryside. In this tale, 13-year-old Anna, accompanied by her younger brother, befriend a dog that effectively becomes their protector, albeit an unpredictable one. Another book featuring dogs is…

Fifteen dogs

‘Fifteen Dogs’ by André Alexis (2015)
This kooky novel is about a group of 15 dogs, all staying overnight in a veterinary clinic in Toronto, that are granted the power of consciousness and discover that they can suddenly think for themselves, talk in a new language (English) and reason with one another. It follows their individual antics as some dogs struggle with this gift, others adjust to it easily and a few use it in horrific ways. It won Canada’s Giller Prize in 2015. Another Giller winner is…

Bellevue Square

‘Bellevue Square’ by Michael Redhill (2017)
Over the years the Giller Prize has introduced me to some great books — and this is one of them. It starts off as a thriller, about a woman looking for her doppelganger, then morphs into a wonderful examination of mental illness, consciousness, identity and the blurring of lines between truth, reality and imagination. Another book about mental illness is…

‘Spider’  by Patrick McGrath (1990)
This story follows the plight of a man, who is adjusting to a new life outside of the psychiatric hospital from which he’s recently been released. He keeps a journal to make sense of the world. In it he recalls incidents from his troubled childhood, including how his father, a plumber with a violent streak, took up with Hilda, a local prostitute. Shortly afterwards, his mother mysteriously “disappeared” and Hilda moved into the family home. Another book featuring a plumber is…

‘Safe House’ by Chris Ewan (2012)
This is a rip-roaring thriller set on the Isle of Man. Local plumber Rob Hale has crashed his motorbike and is now in hospital. But when he asks about the female passenger riding pillion, no one knows what he is talking about — he was the only person found at the accident scene. So does this passenger actually exist, or is Rob losing his marbles? Another book featuring a motorbike crash is…

‘Twins’ by Dirk Kurbjuweit(2017)
In this fable-like tale, “twins” Johann and Ludwig are childhood friends who forge a strong bond in the belief that this will make them more synchronised as rowers and therefore more successful in competition. Part of their bonding activity involves rebuilding an old motorbike, which they then ride on the road, even though they are not old enough to hold a licence. I don’t think it’s a plot spoiler to say this does not bode well…

So that’s this month’s #6Degrees: from a post-apocalyptic novel to a story about teenage boys who develop a close relationship, linked via dogs, the Giller Prize, mental illness, plumbers and motorbikes!

Have you read any of these books? 

26 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From ‘The Road’ to ‘Twins’

  1. Thanks for the reminder about ‘Fifteen Dogs’ by André Alexis. I remember being interested in it when I read about the Giller, and then #SeniorsMoment I forgot!

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    • It’s certainly an original premise for a novel and while I didn’t much like it, the story has stayed with me… be interested to know what you make of it if you get around to reading it Lisa

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    • Bellevue Square is brilliant. I have a feeling there’s supposed to be a sequel but don’t know whether it’s been published yet. I must see if I can find out…

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  2. I could not get on with Fifteen Dogs, either, but loved Bellevue Square and Spider. Patrick McGrath writes about mental illness very well. I’ve often wondered if that’s the product of having a father who worked at Broadmoor.

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    • I read an interview with McGrath somewhere that said his father’s occupation did influence his work… I do keep meaning to read more of his novels… I’m a sucker for any books that feature a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst.

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  3. You’ve reminded me about how I haven’t read much Canadian literature lately. There was a time when I was reading quite a bit – by which I mean a few a year – but that was before blogging. I really should take more note of the Giller Prize and try to catch up a bit. Of course, I really should be trying to finish off my current read now, instead of commenting on blogs!

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    • I haven’t read much Canadian kit this past year or so. I “retired” from th e Shadow Giller last year cos I had just started my new job and didn’t have the bandwidth to make the commitment. The Giller is always worth following though… it’s introduced me to many books and authors that would have normally passed me by.

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    • Thanks Marg. I’d recommend all the books listed here except for Fifteen Dogs, which aside from being bonkers just didn’t do it for me.

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    • I have very fond memories of Bellevue Square… it’s a book that is hard to classify and also one that is hard to discuss without giving anything away.

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  4. I have read Bellevue Square, which was strange and interesting and not at all what I expected. I’ve also read articles since then about the gentrification of the square.

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    • That’s interesting to hear about the gentrification of the square. And yes, it is one of those books that isn’t what you expect when you first begin reading it… it morphs into an entirely different story to the one you initially think you are reading. I remember being very wrong-footed by it.

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  5. I have heard wonderful things about ‘Anna’ by Niccolò Ammaniti, but haven’t read it myself. Yet. ‘Fifteen Dogs’ sounds interesting. One of those books that I would probably enjoy if done right, but I can also see it going terribly wrong. Safe House is on my TBR shelf. I love a good thriller. Thank you for sharing your chain!

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