Six Degrees of Separation – May

It’s May, let’s play! Six degrees of Separation is a game hosted by Kathy at Books are my Favourite and Best and the rule is easy: Start at the same place as other wonderful readers, add six books, and see where you end up.

I haven’t read the initial book this month: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, but I’ve heard of Cleary through a lot of enthusiastic and nostalgic readers. The book is about two sisters, told from the big sis’ perspective. (Here I could have gone to Jane Austen’s Bennett sisters, but I took another option because five sisters were just too many)

(1) It’s a bit of a stretch but it made me think of the Hong Kong book Second Sister by Chan Ho-kei, where the big sister, who has become the head of the household, investigates the death of her little sister. This story has a lot of internet stalking in it… (Here I could have taken any women-stalking-serial-killer route, like the one in “In a Lonely Place” by Dorothy B. Hughes, but I wanted to keep the computer hacker idea)

(2) Which made me think of I See You by Clare Mackintosh, where an ordinary suburban mother is stalked through internet as she takes her commuting train, just like another victim… (Here I could have jumped on the “Girl on the Train” bandwagon, but I took another option because I only saw the movie and didn’t like it so much)

(3) Another British woman waiting for her train would be Joan Scudamore from “Absent in the Spring” by Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott. She’s stuck in the middle of the desert and the train is not coming, delayed by bad weather, and the proper Mrs. Scudamore descends into a full-blown break-down (Here I could have gone to any Agatha Christie bestseller, but I didn’t want to go the cozy British village route)

(4) I preferred another book with a break-down in the desert: “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles. I’m pretty sure that if Mrs. Scudamore and Kit and Port would have ended up in the same hotel in the desert, they would have ignored each other completely, as they could not have more different views on traveling and experiencing foreign cultures. (Here I could have gone to any travel account, possible one from Nicolas Bouvier, my French-speaking favorite travel writer, but I feared that it would lead me to a dead-end)

(5) And so I chose “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood instead. Because of Sally Bowles, who shares the family name with the previous writer, and Paul Bowled indeed knew Christopher Isherwood in Berlin in the early 1930s. There are so many books set in the interwar period in Berlin, and Philip Kerr immediately came to mind, but I didn’t want to finish a game that started with someone as nice and good as Beverly Cleary with Nazis, so I went for a Berlin book set at a later period.

(6) I chose “Red Love“, a memoir about growing up in East Berlin, by Maxim Leo, a memorable book about family life in the German Democratic Republic (as in: on the bad side of the Berlin wall). In my memory, Max Leo is a single boy, very unlike the sisters Beezus and Ramona, but he has a challenging personality, slowly learning how to ask hard questions to the adults around him.

This game made me travel round the world, from Oregon to Hong Kong, from London to Africa, and finally landing in Berlin! I’m afraid I took this children’s classics towards dark and possibly immoral directions. Where would you land?

5 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – May

  1. Excellent and unusual chain – good to see you joining in! I haven’t read Paul Bowles yet, although I did like his wife Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies (and I suspect they had a rather challenging marriage).

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