Six Degrees of Separation: from How To Be Both to Fish Have No Feet

Arriving at the first Saturday in April provides another opportunity to participate in the Six Degrees of Separation meme, hosted by Kate over at BooksAreMyFavouriteAndBest.

This month we start with Ali Smith’s How To Be Both.  I have not yet read this book but I know that its format is unusual with two versions of the same story and the reader can choose where to begin. Another book that has different starting points is Carol Shields’ Happenstance. This is a single story about a marriage which is split into two parts, each told from the husband’s and wife’s perspective.

My lovely husband bought this book for me when it was originally published in 1994. Somewhere over the years, with house moves and much sorting of shelves, I sadly managed to loose his copy. So I recently spent time hunting down a good copy of that original edition and am pleased to have it back in my collection.

Another book I have recently hunted for in a very particular edition is New Grub Street by George Gissing. My late uncle, Professor John Goode, edited this version and I am looking forward to reading both his introduction and the novel itself.

Taking the London setting of New Grub Street as my next link gives me a huge range of options. I am plumping for the last London-based book I read, which is the excellent Transcription by Kate Atkinson. This is a novel about spying and spies, which allows me to link to one of my most favourite spy books – William Boyd’s Restless.

I ‘read’ this book in audio format. It was narrated brilliantly by the wonderful Rosamund Pike. So for my next book I am going to take the name Pike and make a fishy link to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. This is a light but engaging read about political spin, hypocrisy and bureaucracy. Hmm… sounds sadly rather familiar at the moment. But I am going to swerve smartly away from current affairs and stick with the fishy theme to conclude this month’s chain.

Fish Have No Feet by Jón Kalman Stefánsson is an Icelandic novel which I stumbled across recently. Its description sounds rather bleak – it is set in a town surrounded by a sea which can no longer be fished and which is under the influence of a US military base. But something about the reviews and a glance through the first few pages makes me think that this will be a good read. We shall see.

As is often the case with this meme, my chain has meandered around in unexpected ways. It’s always interesting to reflect on whether there is any link between the start and finish books. This month is quite difficult because I have not read the books at either end of my chain. Perhaps that is the simple connection between them. Anyway, next month’s chain will start with The Dry by Jane Harper. See you then! 🙂




23 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from How To Be Both to Fish Have No Feet

  1. What an interesting chain!

    Yes – great minds think alike! I bought Happenstance at an airport years ago as we were going on holiday. I read the wife’s story first and my husband read the husband’s story first – then we swapped and read the other stories (if you see what I mean). I preferred the wife’s story and he the husband’s. But I don’t remember much about it now.

    I’ve read Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and agree about the familiarity with the current situation. Temptation is on my wish list and Fish Have No Feet is a great title – I haven’t heard of it before. I hope you enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting about Happenstance! I need to re-read it because I can remember enjoying it overall but not much detail. 🙂


  2. Have you ever read C.G. Jung’s “Memories Dreams and Reflection?” I did many years ago and was not ready to fully understand Jung’s insights. Your posts have given me the idea of rereading his work. There are so many “happenstances” and serendipitous events in life. “Jung introduced the idea of synchronicity to strip off the fantasy, magic, and superstition which surround and are provoked by unpredictable, startling, and impressive events that, like these, appear to be connected.” C.G. Jung, Synchronicity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is something I have always meant to read so will make a point of doing so now so that we can discuss it further. I look forward to more reading adventures together! Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great chain! I haven’t read any of those books, but I do have a copy of Transcription which I’m looking forward to reading as I usually love Kate Atkinson.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know I keep writing this, but I so love seeing all the different books that we all find for this challenge. I have read Transcription, I love espionage books. But I also now want to read Fish Have No Feet, I would never had heard of it without this challenge. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s one of the joys of the 6 degrees meme. My list of books to explore further always increases exponentially when I read everyone else’s chains. It’s one of those things in life which is painful, yet exquisitely so.

      Liked by 1 person

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