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This month the chain starts with either the book that closed off your last chain, or if you didn’t do last month’s chain (as in my case), the last book you read.
The last book I finished was a proof of The Unfolding, the new book from A.M Homes, which follows a Republican donor plotting a coup in the wake of Barack Obama’s election, while also trying to hold his family life together. The Unfolding is set during the transformative months between the presidential election and the inauguration – via Thanksgiving and Christmas – which thoughtfully examines the fractures of public and domestic life.
Another book which explores the fall out of an election process is Tom Perrotta’s Election. Election is a 1998 novel about a high school history teacher who attempts to sabotage a manipulative, ambitious girl’s campaign to become school president. The novel was adapted into a film of the same title and starred Reece Witherspoon as the scheming Tracy Flick.
Reece Witherspoon also takes the title role in the film adaptation of Wild. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the 2012 memoir by the American writer, author, and podcaster Cheryl Strayed. The memoir describes Strayed’s 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 as a journey of self-discovery following the death of her mother from cancer.
In Wild, Strayed starts her epic hike in the Mojave Desert, which is also the setting for the sprawling Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru. The plot is centred on a family trip by Jaz and Lisa Matharu with their severely autistic son, Raj. During the trip, Raj disappears and subsequently returns to his parents. The book also has several subplots, all set in the strange atmosphere of the Mojave Desert, where everything is driven by the energy and cunning of Coyote, the mythic, shapeshifting trickster.
The medieval German legend of trickster Tyll Ulenspiegel is fictionalised in Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann. Kehlmann follows his protagonist on a wild romp from childhood to death. After his father is hanged for witchcraft, Tyll forges his own path through a world devastated by the Thirty Years’ War, evading witch-hunters, escaping a collapsed mine outside a besieged city, and entertaining the exiled King and Queen of Bohemia along the way. As a jester and juggler, he makes his living as an entertainer, the highlight of his show being a precarious tightrope walk.
The most famous tightrope walk of all time provides the backdrop for Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. The novel opens one morning in August 1974, as the people of lower Manhattan stare up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. There, the tightrope walker Phillipe Petit is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
The title of McCann’s novel comes from a line in the poem Locksley Hall by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Another novel whose title comes from a line in a Tennyson poem is The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie. Published in 1962, the novel features Miss Marple, who investigates the murder of Heather Badcock, who consumed a poisoned cocktail apparently meant for American film actress Marina Gregg, Heather’s idol.
So there we have it, from American election to British murders, these are my 6 Degrees of Separation for August. Have you read any of the links in my chain?
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!