Six Degrees of Separation – From Taddeo 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. It’s ages since I’ve done one of these, but somehow this month’s first book set me off on an unstoppable chain…

I haven’t read this, and won’t! Here’s what Goodreads says about it…

Desire as we’ve never seen it before: a riveting true story about the sex lives of three real American women, based on nearly a decade of reporting.

It thrills us and torments us. It controls our thoughts and destroys our lives. It’s all we live for. Yet we almost never speak of it. And as a buried force in our lives, desire remains largely unexplored—until now. Over the past eight years, journalist Lisa Taddeo has driven across the country six times to embed herself with ordinary women from different regions and backgrounds. The result, Three Women, is the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written.

Dear me! Now if this was a book about chocolate I could understand it, but sex? I can only imagine the author and/or blurb writer are in the midst of puberty because, trust me, girlies, the all-consumingness of the desire for sex happily ratchets down to sane proportions once maturity kicks in. The desire for doughnuts, however, is a different thing altogether…

This made me think of books with too much sex, which leaves me spoiled for choice really. I think I’ll go for…

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. This is a highly regarded book about WW1 and has many good points. However, it has some of the worst written sex scenes it has been my misfortune to read. In my review, I said…

…the two lovers rarely talk other than to decide where next they can have sex. And unfortunately, Faulks just doesn’t have what it takes to make sex sound like fun. As he gives us detail after detail of each positional change, each bodily fluid and its eventual destination, each grunt, groan and sigh, I developed a picture of poor Elizabeth, the love interest, as one of those bendy toys that used to be so popular. As so often in male sex fantasies, her willingness, nay, desperation, to have sex with Stephen knows no bounds, so we’ve barely finished the cigarette after the last session before we’re off again.

This reminded me of how often I’ve noticed that male authors of a certain age, just before they hit their second childhood, seem to go through a second adolescence. Which brings me to…

Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving. I abandoned this one too early to review on the blog but I left a brief, bitter comment on Goodreads…

Abandoned. I was already finding the book repetitive and a bit silly, but was willing to persevere till I hit the extended graphic oral sex scene at the 18% mark, which other reviews lead me to believe is the first of many. Not good enough otherwise to tempt me to read hundreds more pages of an elderly man’s sex fantasies. Note to self: Remember to stop getting books written by men over the age of 60 – it must be hormonal…

Of course, it’s not possible to think of middle-aged men and their sex obsessions without thinking of the poor male protagonist of…

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Here we have a middle-aged man who springs a sudden surprise on his wife. Again I think my feelings about him came through loud and clear in my review…

High Court judge Fiona Maye’s comfortable life is rocked when her husband of many years announces that he would like her permission to have an affair. The poor man has his reasons – apparently he and Fiona haven’t had sex for seven weeks and one day so you can understand his desperation. (Am I sounding unsympathetic? Oh, I haven’t even begun…)

And while we’re on the subject of male authors and their fantasies, it would be unfair to neglect Brodie Moncur, the protagonist in…

Love Is Blind by William Boyd

Another one that brought out my inner snarkiness. Here’s an extract from my little blurb for the exciting story of this book…

…he falls in love with Lika Blum, the girlfriend of an Irish pianist. Then he stays in love with her for the rest of the book, has sex with her quite a lot, and fantasises about having sex with her most of the rest of the time. He has sex with her in Paris, the South of France, Scotland and St Petersburg. And maybe other places – I forget.

Of course, the Europeans shouldn’t be left out. Books written by middle-aged men show that we all have things in common, whatever our nationality. Which brings me to…

The Midas Murders by Pieter Aspe

The last book I will ever read from this author, as this quote from my review will explain…

It’s in the attitude to women that the book really shows itself up to be an unpleasant piece of work. Van In (along with every other man in the book and therefore presumably the author) never looks at a woman without commenting on her breasts, her rear, her legs or her availability in the most derogatory terms. Hannelore has descended from being a colleague to being an object for sexual fantasising – the biggest fantasy being that an intelligent, beautiful and successful woman would find anything remotely attractive in the drunken, sexist and shabby Van In.

And suddenly that comment whisks my memory off to the Faroe Islands, where yet another middle-aged male author fantasises about beautiful, intelligent women falling for the most unlikely of men…

The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson

Here’s what I said about this charmer…

Given that Callum is a violent drunk with a shady past, living in a shack, suspected of murder, penniless and with no obvious future prospects, why are we supposed to believe that an intelligent, successful professional woman would be interested in him? If an author wants me to believe that, then he must be shown to be charming, fascinating, a great conversationalist, someone who saves kittens from being run over by trucks – something to make him seem attractive – but Callum is none of these things. We’re not talking about 17-year-olds here, where ‘bad boy’ syndrome might apply – we’re talking about mature, nearly middle-aged adults. But with Callum we are supposed to believe that not one, but two, women find him attractive – standards on the Faroe Islands must be pretty low.

Well, it appears that I might be wrong about obsessive desire! It does seem to rear its head (if you think that’s a pun, it’s your mind, not mine… 😉 ) with great regularity. Why does no one ever write books about doughnut fantasies??

* * * * *

So Taddeo to Robertson via sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, and sex!

Hope you enjoyed the journey. 😀

Dancing with Darcy is far more fun – even better than doughnuts!

46 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – From Taddeo to…

  1. I’m thinking that the fans of these types of books are the same as those who enjoy films (often adapted from these types of books) where everything lacks nuance & is displayed in the fullest detail.

  2. Such a funny chain! There is some godawful writing about sex – I blame D H Lawrence – Sebastian Faulks is about as good at protraying women as Dickens was. I hope you’ll continue with 6 Degress now you’ve picked it up again.

    • Funnily enough I’ve just finished a re-read of Sons and Lovers – maybe it was that that subconsciously inspired this embittered rant… 😉 I do enjoy doing Six Degrees – just seem to have got out of the habit somehow. Hopefully I’ll get back on track now…

  3. Your comments on Three Women cracked me up! You’re not missing anything there, it was so overhyped and I really don’t know why. I expected so much more from something the author spent so many years working on, you would never have known it wasn’t just some interviews.

    • It just sounds to me as if the whole premise is rubbish – I really don’t think sexual desire is “all we live for”! Not in Glasgow anyway – maybe the cold and rain keep our passions from burning too hotly… 😉

    • Haha – the good news is lots of people loved each of them! The sex in Birdsong is all near the beginning and then it gets better. The other two… well, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for you… 😉

  4. Oh, as a male well over 60 I cringed at your blistering exposé — is that the right word? — of male sex writing, even as I delighted in your being able to sustain that attack over several critiques with the right amount of energy — oops, another phrase I’ve used laced with ambiguity… How have I managed to avoid these novels all my life?!

  5. Haha, this is brilliant. the only one of these delightful sounding books I have actually read is The Children Act, and I can’t say I was very impressed by that side of it. It seems they have all been written by people old enough to know better. I’m off to find a book about chocolate now, as there are quite a few of them around too, and they are much more fun.

    • Haha – glad you enjoyed it! Do be careful when picking the book, though – if it’s written by a middle-aged male I dread to think what he’ll do with the chocolate… 😉

    • Haha – glad you enjoyed it! Yes, the blurb of Three Women makes it sound like a complete load of rubbish. Sexual desire is “all we live for”?? Good grief!! 😂

  6. Oh, this is brilliant, FictionFan! You make such a good point about the obsession with sex, and the lack of good writing and plotting in some of these. And what a clever way to link these books together, too. You know, your DNFs, rants, and other less-than-gushing reviews are at least as informative and entertaining as your rave reviews. That takes skill!

    • Aw, thank you, Margot! 😊 Haha – I was glad to find that at least I seem to be consistent in my views of middle-aged male sex fantasies, if in nothing else! 😉

  7. Ha ha! 😂 I have no desire (no pun intended, though very apt) to read these books. I’m waiting for the post linking books about doughnuts or chocolate!😂

    • It makes you kinda glad not to be a male author of a certain age, doesn’t it? It must be so exhausting, and a life of constant disappointment… 😂 The tragedy of my life is that I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about doughnuts…

  8. Oh dear me! 😂 A small part of me was wishing that my partner (nicely over 60) was in the room whilst I read this, so that he might enquire why I was doubled up with laughter. But perhaps it’s best kept between ourselves. Brilliant read FF! 😁 Though I’m a little concerned at having read Birdsong and failed to notice (or at least failed to remember) any sex at all in it. Maybe I had my eyes closed at that point? 😖😉

    • Hahaha! Male authors seem to be far worse than the general male population though! They must spend so much time writing they forget to actually use up their stock of desire at the appropriate age or something… 😉 I suspect poor Elizabeth, the bendy toy, probably had her eyes closed during most of it too… 😂

  9. How I love reading your snarkiness, FF! This is a brilliant Six Degrees of Separation chain. I’ve managed to miss reading ALL of these and have no intention of correcting the error of my ways. You’re right, of course — doughnuts, chocolate, and Darcy are waaay more interesting. *fistbump-thingy*

    • Hahaha – glad you enjoyed it! I do seem to get particularly snarky with middle-aged male authors, don’t I? Oh for the good old days when sex was implied rather than described! I’ll have to get in a bumper stock of doughnuts to aid recovery after this… 😉

  10. I did enjoy the journey thank you! I’m supposed to be reading Birdsong this year for the TBR challenge and was hoping the silly sex in the TV version wasn’t in the book – oh dear. . .

    • Haha – glad you enjoyed it! 😀 The good news is that most of the sex in Birdsong happens in the first section and then the book improves from there on in. So just close your eyes for the first couple of hundred pages… 😉

  11. This is fun! Another blog I follow use to participate in the meme every so often. I’m not sure I’m clever enough to attempt it! 😉

    • Haha – glad you enjoyed it! Sometimes I find the books just flow from each other, as they did this time, but in other months I can really struggle to make connections. I think that might be why I got out of the habit – a couple of months when I just couldn’t come up with interesting links…

  12. Haha! I won’t be reading Three Women either. I haven’t read any of the other books in your chain and am not a fan of books with too much sex, so thanks for the warning. I’d rather read about chocolate too, to be honest! 🙂

    • Three Women just sounds like complete tosh to me! But that blurb did start me remembering all the times I felt authors had become a bit too obsessed with sex. Imagine my surprise when it turned out they were all middle-aged men… 😉 We definitely need a cozy series set in a doughnut shop, I feel…

    • Hahaha – glad you enjoyed it! I do tend to get a bit brutal over on Goodreads – but only to books that deserve it… 😉 My theory is that male authors spend so much time writing when they’re young they forget to use up their stock of desire, so it all floods out in later life in their fantasy lives… 😉

  13. Such a laugh! Luckily I have managed to avoid of all those books. I have to say though that I prefer chocolate to doughnuts.

    • Haha! Don’t let me put you off! There’s a lot of good stuff in the book, especially the scenes in the war itself. Just skim past the sex scenes with your eyes shut… 😉

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