Six degrees of separation: from Tales of the City to On Green Dolphin Street

It is time once again to take part in Six Degrees of Separation, a meme hosted by Kate on her blog Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month, a book is chosen as a starting point. Players then publish their own chain, linking the first book six others. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the others on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The links can be a tenuous and tangential as you like!

You can check out a Six Degrees playlist for this post on my other blog Leaping Tracks.

We start with Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. This romp is set in 1970s San Francisco. I tried to read it ages ago and, unlike many other readers, did not find it funny at all. Hey ho, it would be boring if we all liked the same thing.

Something else I read ages ago but this time enjoyed very much was Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. One story stuck firmly with me – in ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, the protagonist murders her husband with a frozen joint of meat, which she then calmly roasts and serves to the investigating officers – brilliant!

Talking of lamb takes me to The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks. This book is described as “modern dispatches from an ancient landscape [which] tell the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, describing a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped this landscape.”

From here, it is a natural leap to Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain. Her surname as the link is but one connection; more substantive are the beautifully raw descriptions in both books of the authors’ deep affinity and reverence for their respective landscapes (the Lake District and the Cairngorms).

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is another book which takes the Scottish landscape, specifically the Isle of Skye, as its setting.  Woolf uses this magnificent island as a character in its own right to contrast with the sorrows of her humans.

This gives me a chance to link to one of my very favourite books The Hours by Michael Cunningham, in which Virginia Woolf, one of her readers and one of her characters all live through a single day. It is a brilliant homage to Mrs Dalloway.

Part of The Hours is set in Greenwich Village, New York. Thinking about things which are green takes me to my final book in this series, which is set in another part of the USA (Washington), namely On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks. I love his writing and this book is a fabulous read.

It is c1,000 miles from San Francisco to Washington, but who knows how much further one would have to travel also to take in the Lake District, the Cairngorms, the Isle of Skye and New York. It certainly sounds like a must-do trip some time! 🙂

20 thoughts on “Six degrees of separation: from Tales of the City to On Green Dolphin Street

  1. A Life in Books says:

    Yours is the second #6Degrees post i’ve read that links to Roald Dahl – Margaret over at Books Please went for Completely Unexpected Tales. Yours takes off in an entirely different direact from hers after that! I love Nan Shepherd’s no frills writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liz says:

      that is one of the brilliant elements of this meme – we can start with the same ideas and then veer off. I love writing these posts and reading everyone else’s! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hub says:

    Um…. ought I to be at all concerned at “murders her husband with a frozen joint of meat, which she then calmly roasts and serves to the investigating officers – brilliant!”?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margaret says:

    Oh – you begin with the same one I did! And include three more that I’ve read – The Shepherd’s Life, To The Lighthouse and one of my very favourite books, The Hours!! And I definitely want to read The Living Mountain and On Green Dolphin Street.

    Great chain!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liz says:

      Great minds and all that! I love seeing the similarities and huge differences between all our lists. I hope you enjoy TLM and OGDS if you get round to them! 🙂

      Like

  4. Kate W says:

    My enduring memory of the Dahl is the roast lamb story – I think about it every time I cook a roast! I’m popping over to look at your playlist now – love that you put this to music.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandra says:

    I love this chain, Liz! I also went for ‘Tales’ and indeed a tv link, but mine are a little less dark and adult than yours (and Margaret’s)! I too, love The Hours, and will persevere with reading To the Lighthouse. It doesn’t work for me as an audiobook; I think I must see the words written on the page. The Shepherd’s Life and On the Mountain are both “on the list”. And On Green Dolphin Street ought to be!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liz says:

      So pleased you are a fellow ‘Hours lover’! And with TtL – I know what you mean. I sometimes find it takes me a while to get into VW’s writing, even when it is a book I have read often.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Clanmother says:

    I agree, Joan! I have continually amazed and inspired by how Liz is able to make profound and interesting connections between literature and music. I look forward to every one of her posts!

    Liked by 1 person

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