Since starting a blog, I’ve never taken part in a meme or a book tour, but after coming across the Six Degrees of Separation meme on writer Isabel Costello’s blog, I was intrigued. After struggling to come up with a blog post for today, I decided to check out the original idea, which was created by author Emma Chapman, and find out the rules.
If you’ve ever seen the film, starring a young Will Smith, you’ll be familiar with the theory that everyone is six steps or less away from anyone else in the world. (Not to be confused with the Kevin Bacon version that reckons you can connect any actor in Hollywood based on a chain of movies starting from one starring The Bacon, thanks to his propensity for filming ensemble pieces.)
This meme reimagines that theory, the idea being to connect a number of books, in six steps or less, beginning with one chosen by the creator, in this case Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, which I reviewed a few months ago.
So, to the meme…
Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent: The tale of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland. The book was inspired by the time its Australian author spent in a small Icelandic town on a student exchange programme.
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville: The classic novel following Captain Ahab’s voyage in pursuit of the great white whale. I’ve also spent time in Iceland and after an amazing whale watching trip in Reykjavik, I bought a copy of Moby Dick, in Icelandic.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald: As Moby Dick is a tale of obsession and the physical pursuit of something ultimately unobtainable, The Great Gatsby is the story of one man’s obsession with achieving his American Dream, in part through his pursuit of the woman he has idealised yet who remains unattainable.
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare: Another classic love story, which – like The Great Gatsby – has been adapted into a film starring Leonardo diCaprio as the ill-fated romantic hero.
The Pact, by Jodi Picoult: A popular book dealing with a suicide pact between two teenage lovers and the repercussions on their families and community.
The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides: This novel recounts the suicides of the Lisbon sisters, as told by a group of teenage boys who admired them from afar, in a style that is often said to mirror that of a Greek chorus.
The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, by Caroline Smailes: A modern update on Greek mythology, this novel explores the pain of adolescence as it follows unfortunate Arthur Braxton into the magical world of an abandoned swimming baths, where he becomes infatuated with a mysterious girl.
Thematically, this developed into a rather dark list, with a focus on obsession and suicide, before taking a turn into Greek mythology, but it was an interesting challenge to connect each book to another. I’m sure with a bit more thought I could come up with half a dozen very different lists, each beginning with Burial Rites.
In fact, when I first compiled this post, I planned to finish with The Crow Road, by Iain Banks, based on the fact that both that and The Virgin Suicides have striking opening lines, but Arthur Braxton seemed more fitting in the end.
If you come up with a list of your own, or you know of any other engaging memes, I’d love to hear about them!