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This month we are beginning with a book that is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. This young adult classic follows Margaret who talks to God about how she is trying to come to terms with faith and waits, with anxiety and trepidation, for puberty to arrive.
Someone else who is struggling with faith, puberty and fitting in is the titular character in Carrie by Stephen King, who is laughed at when her period comes in public and she has no idea what it is. After sustained bullying and isolation, Carrie wreaks murderous revenge on the people of her home town, thanks to her powers of telekinesis.
Another girl who uses her gift of telekinesis, but in a less murderous way, is the enchanting Matilda in the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. Literature’s most famous bookworm and child prodigy, Matilda must stand her ground against her parents, the Wormwoods and her dreaded headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass concerns another child prodigy, Oskar Matzerath who has the mind of an adult at the age of 4, yet retains the stature of a child while living through the beginning of World War II, several love affairs, and the world of postwar Europe. Through all this, a toy tin drum, the first of which he received as a present on his third birthday, followed by many replacement drums each time he wears one out from over-vigorous drumming, remains his treasured possession; he is willing to commit violence to retain it.
Keith Moon of The Who is considered to be one of rock music’s greatest ever drummers and he (alongside other famous real life musicians) makes a cameo in Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell, a novel which tells the story of the rise and fall of fictional psychedelic rock band Utopia Avenue set in London in 1967.
Daisy Jones and the Six is another fictional rock band, this time created by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The tale of a Fleetwood Mac-esque rock band in 1970s LA it explores the stratospheric rise of a band whose sound defined an era and whose sudden, cataclysmic split left a trail of unanswered questions in its wake. A movie adaptation is in the works for next year, starring talented actor Riley Keough, who also happens to be the granddaughter of Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley is the catalyst for the narrative in Bad Nature, or Elvis in Mexico by Javier Marías, translated by Esther Allen, which I reviewed on the blog just yesterday! The story of a bar-fight gone wrong while Elvis was filming in Fun in Acapulco, Bad Nature is a stunning example of the power of the novella.
So there we have it, from God to Elvis in six bookish steps! Have you read any of my choices?
Next year (January 2, 2021), we’ll be kicking off another year of Six Degrees with Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell!
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!