Six Degrees of Separation – From Hornby to…

Chain links…

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best. The idea is to start with the book that Kate gives us and then create a chain of six books, each suggested by the one before…

fever-pitch

This month’s starting book is Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. I haven’t read it but the blurb tells me…

Nick Hornby has been a football fan since the moment he was conceived. Call it predestiny. Or call it preschool. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession. Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby’s award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom — its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young mens’ coming-of-age stories.

Ugh! Football!! No, thanks! Though at least proper football is played with the feet, unlike American Football. Which reminds me of…

the perfect pass

SC Gwynne’s The Perfect Pass. SC Gwynne was the winner of my FF Book of the Year Award in 2014 and the “prize” is that I will read the author’s next book. Imagine my delight when his next book turned out to be about American Football! This is the story of how a college coach, Hal Mumme, developed the “unstoppable” Air Raid offense, changing the very nature of the game.

Though the passing technology was more than half a century old, there was still something morally thrilling about watching the quarterback toss the ball to the tailback, while the guard or tackle pulled and the fullback crashed down on the defensive end and the whole team seemed to move en masse in that swinging, lovely rightward arc of pure power followed by the popping sounds of all those helmets and pads and the scream of the crowd as the whole thing disintegrated into a mass of bodies on the turf.

Amazingly, this book was a surprise hit with me, proving that a great writer can make any subject fascinating! Plus it was the cause of me finding one of my favourite pics to ever appear on the blog…

Testing football helmets...
Testing football helmets…

Gwynne’s award-winning previous book was Rebel Yell, a biography of Stonewall Jackson, one of the great US Civil War generals. This reminded me of…

king solomons mines

King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard, which culminates in the great civil war amongst the Kukuanas. A book I consider to be the best adventure story I’ve ever read, this tells the tale of Allan Quatermain and his companions setting out on a journey across Africa to find the fabled diamond mines of King Solomon…

“It is far. But there is no journey upon this earth that a man may not make if he sets his heart to it. There is nothing, Umbopa, that he cannot do, there are no mountains he may not climb, there are no deserts he cannot cross; save a mountain and a desert of which you are spared the knowledge, if love leads him and he holds his life in his hand counting it as nothing, ready to keep it or to lose it as Providence may order.”

adventurers

Another book that involves climbing mountains is…

thin air

Michelle Paver’s Thin Air. This chilly ghost story takes place in 1935 during an expedition to climb Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas, the third highest mountain in the world and as yet unconquered. Although it starts and ends rather slowly, the bit in the middle where the horror actually happens is excellent. This is not gore-fest horror – it’s all done with things half-glimpsed and subject to interpretation. A good one for a dark evening.

kangchenjunga south-eest face

I couldn’t visit the Himalayas without thinking of…

black narcissus

Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden. This is the story of a group of nuns who make their way to a palace high in the Himalayas to set up a convent and school there. But they are not prepared for the isolation they will feel in this place of majestic grandeur, constantly windswept, and with a population who have their own spiritual beliefs and no desire to change. Soon the nuns will find themselves challenged, not only physically, but emotionally, even spiritually, struggling to maintain their faith amidst the emptiness that surrounds them.

This GIF from the movie gives me vertigo each time I look at it…

black narcissus bell

Nuns and convents made me think of…

eleven days

Stav Sherez’s Eleven Days. When a fire engulfs a convent in London, the ten nuns who make up the Order are all killed. But there is another body too, and it’s up to Detectives Jack Carrigan and Geneva Miller to find out who she was and why she was there. This is a complex, somewhat sprawling thriller that looks not just at the underbelly of crime in London but also at politics within the Roman Catholic church, and across the world to the impact of big business on the peasants of Peru.

Stav Sherez
Stav Sherez

An “Eleven” is the traditional name for a cricket team, which made me think of…

selection-day-2

Selection Day by Aravind Adiga. Back to sport to end on, but a decent sport this time! (Though not as good as tennis obviously.)

Gratuitous Rafa GIF
Gratuitous Rafa GIF

This is a story of sibling rivalry, tied in with a wider picture of corruption in society shown through the corruption in cricket. I love Adiga’s depiction of Mumbai. He shows the poverty, corruption and class divisions quite clearly but he also shows the other side – the vibrancy, the struggle for social mobility, the advances of recent years. His characters, even when they’re being put through the emotional wringer, manage to have some fun along the way, and the whole atmosphere he portrays lacks the irredeemable hopelessness of so much Indian literature.

“People thought I had a future as a writer, Manju. I wanted to write a great novel about Mumbai,” the principal said, playing with her glasses. “But then…then I began, and I could not write it. The only thing I could write about, in fact, was that I couldn’t write about the city.

“The sun, which I can’t describe like Homer, rises over Mumbai, which I can’t describe like Salman Rushdie, creating new moral dilemmas for all of us, which I won’t be able to describe like Amitav Ghosh.”

 * * * * *

So Hornby to Adiga, via football, civil war, mountain passes, the Himalayas, nuns and elevens!

Hope you enjoyed the journey. 😀

39 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From Hornby to…

  1. This is very clever, FF! I didn’t like the mention of nuns, except the ones who got burnt. I have a pathological fear of nuns *shudders* I hope that one ringing a bell falls off!

  2. Excellent! I remember your reviews on many of those books.

    Had to laugh at that football helmet testing photo. I wonder how many volunteers they had to test the helmets. 😀

  3. Such an interesting chain. I read King Solomon’s Mines years ago, so I don’t remember the civil war amongst the Kukuanas – I have the book somewhere and am tempted to look for it. I do remember thinking it was a fabulous book and wonder whether I’d still think the same.

  4. Your cleverness is inspirational, FF. Doesn’t Rafa look particularly fine in hot pink?! And that meme of the nun tolling the bell? Why, oh why, didn’t somebody put a wall on the edge of that tower so I wouldn’t have to sit here and worry about her pitching head-forward into space??

    • Haha! Thank you! Doesn’t he? And with that gorgeous little smile… *swoons* That GIF terrifies me – I’m sure it’s some kind of trick photography but it still makes me quiver!

  5. An interesting chain – and maybe an excuse to re-read King Solomon’s Mines.
    Nice to see Rafa pretty in pink!

    • I always end up wanting to re-read half the books on the list… but I really must try to fit in more Rider Haggard soon. Isn’t Rafa lovely when he smiles… 😀

    • I loved it, but then I’ve loved every book Adiga has written! Some reviewers seem to think you need to understand cricket, but I didn’t really feel that… hope you enjoy it! 😀

  6. Very interesting to see how other people’s minds hop from one thing to another. That is a lovely Rafa smile, I couldn’t help smiling too. Snorted when I saw the helmet-testing photo too, it’s a wonder he didn’t break his neck.
    Might have to read King Soloman’s Mines.

  7. I must take big issue with you on this post. Seriously big disagreement. NO picture of Rafa can EVER be gratuitous. EVER. I am so shocked by your description. Not sure our bloggy friendship can survive this insult (you can, if you choose, regain my regard by a replay of the famous Vamos Rafa Shorts YouTube vid)

    • Hahaha! I do tend to agree – actually it’s the rest of the post that’s gratuitous! I feel life would be simpler and more fun if I changed the blog title to “FictionFan’s Fave Hunks” and did away with all the pesky booktalk completely…

      Just for you…

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