A few weeks ago I took part in a new meme that was first posted on author Emma Chapman’s blog.
The meme involved taking a particular novel, and then in six steps connecting it to a list of other books, whether by author, subject, theme or something more tenuous.
I found it a really interesting idea, so I jumped at the chance to take part in the second round.
And this time the starting point is:
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
One of the canonical feminist texts, this semi-autobiographical novel follows a young woman struggling with mental illness. I must read this again sometime!
Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A memoir of one young woman’s battle with depression, Prozac Nation had similar themes to The Bell Jar, but it brought the issue of depression screaming into the modern world. I even wrote an essay for my English Literature A-Level comparing the two novels.
The Hottest State, by Ethan Hawke
Prozac Nation is a quintessentially 90s book. As each decade has standout novels and films, so it has actors who embody that particular moment in time. Ethan Hawke was the ultimate representation of 90s slacker culture in movies such as Reality Bites and Before Sunrise, and The Hottest State is his first novel, which is all about moving to the big city and dealing with troubled first love.
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
As Ethan Hawke is the poster child for 90s culture, so Jack Kerouac embodies the spirit of disenfranchised youth from his own era. If Hawke had been born a few decades earlier, no doubt he would have been a part of the Beat generation. Kerouac’s most famous novel also explores what it means to be young and free spirited in America.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy This novel tells the story of another trip across the highways of America, but it presents the reader with a totally different world. In a dystopian future, travel is not about satisfying some wanderlust, it’s about staying alive.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Another dystopian imagining of America’s future, Atwood’s novel explores feminist issues and is one of my favourite books of all time.
The Testament of Jessie Lamb, by Jane Rogers
A contemporary tale of a young woman recruited to have a baby for a couple who cannot, thanks to a biological disaster that has plunged the world into chaos, mirroring one of The Handmaid’s Tale’s storylines.
So, what do you think? If you started with The Bell Jar, where would your literary connections take you?