Six Degrees of Separation – From Rooney 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. This month’s starting book is…

Normal People by Sally Rooney. I haven’t read it, but the very long blurb on Goodreads (which I therefore won’t quote) tells me this is about two young people who spiral into some form of mutually-destructive relationship. Think I’ll give it a miss!

It’s apparently largely set in Trinity College, Dublin. Darryl Jones, who has edited several horror and science fiction books for Oxford World’s Classics, is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College, and has been one of my chief guides to these genres. He edited my first choice…

The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells. The story of Prendick. a man shipwrecked on a small island inhabited by the titular Dr Moreau. It’s about mad science, vivisection and evolution, and it contains some truly terrifying imagery. Read purely as an adventure, this is a dark and terrifying story indeed, from the first pages when Prendick and his fellow survivors are afloat on an open sea with no food and running out of fresh water, to the scenes on the island when Dr Moreau’s experiments go horrifically wrong. But it’s what the book says about Wells’ society that lifts it to the status of a true classic.

Another island provides my next stop…

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Undoubtedly one of the best adventure stories ever written, full of characters who’ve become such a part of our national psyche they almost feel historical rather than fictional – Long John Silver, Blind Pew, Ben Gunn, Jim Hawkins (arr, Jim, lad!), et al. I adored this full-cast performance from Audible – they all act their socks off! Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight! Marooned, I tell ‘ee! Marooooned!

The hero of my next choice was also marooned…

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. When Lord Greystoke and his wife are marooned by mutineers on the coast of Africa, they die, and their baby son is adopted by a tribe of apes. However, when he discovers the hut his parents built and all their belongings, he realises he is different from the other apes. And then more white people are marooned in the same place by another bunch of mutineers, and he sees the lovely Jane… While many aspects of the story are a bit ridiculous if you stop to analyse them too deeply, it’s so full of thrills, excitement, high love and general drama that it swept me along on a tsunami-sized wave of fun.

Johnny Weissmuller played the role many times…

The apes in Tarzan aren’t really apes – they’re a kind of proto-human. So are the first characters we meet in my next selection…

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke. A tribe of man-apes is visited by aliens who use a strange artefact to stimulate their minds, thus setting them on a course to become fully human and develop the intelligence that will eventually allow them to dominate their world. Millennia later, mankind has reached the moon, only to find hidden another similar artefact, one that this time will send them on a journey to the furthest reaches of the solar system and perhaps beyond. Arising from Clarke’s partnership with Stanley Kubrick, both film and book enhance each other superbly so that, together, they become something uniquely wonderful. Blew my mind, man – psychedelic!

When doing my occasional Film of the Book comparisons, the book nearly always wins, and the film occasionally does. 2001 is one of only two pairings where I declared it a draw. The other is my next choice…

4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie. When Elspeth McGillicuddy glances out of the window of her train carriage, she can see straight into another train that is running parallel to her own. As a blind flies up on the carriage opposite her, she is horrified to see a woman being strangled by a tall, dark man. However, no body is found on the train, and there the matter would probably have rested, but for the fact that Mrs McGillicuddy was on her way to St Mary Mead to visit her old friend, Jane Marple… The book is one of Christie’s best and the film based on it, Murder, She Said, starring the wonderful Margaret Rutherford, may take wild liberties with the plot and the character of Miss Marple, but is nevertheless a joyous treat in its own right.

My last pick begins during another train journey (and coincidentally is another that’s been made into a great film)…

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Guy Haines is on a train to Texas, hoping that his estranged wife Miriam will finally give him the divorce he needs so that he can marry his new love, Anne. Another passenger, Charles Bruno, begins to chat to him. Bruno has a difficult relationship with his rich father who controls the purse strings. He suggests to Guy that they swap murders – that Bruno will murder the inconvenient Miriam if in return Guy will murder Bruno’s father. An early example of a psychological thriller, and still a true classic of the genre.

* * * * *

So from Rooney to Highsmith via Trinity College Dublin, islands, maroonings, man-apes, Films of the Books, and trains.

Hope you enjoyed the journey! 😀

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

  1. I was just thinking it’s a very inventive chain, too. I especially liked the link to Agatha Christie – I haven’t seen the Margaret Rutherford film, but than I’m not really a fan of her as Miss Marple. My favourite is Joan Hickson.

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    • Haha, thank you – sometimes invention is desperately needed to get from one book to another… 😉 I try to forget the Rutherford films are supposed to be based on Miss Marple and just try to enjoy them as something in their own right. She’s not at all like the book version, but she’s so much fun! I love Joan Hickson too, although I always think she’s a bit more serious than the book Miss Marple – not as fluttery and blush-y (new word!). She’s fab at the audiobooks though…

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  2. I loved this journey you made, FF! From not-so-commonplace murder to weird island goings-on and sea and space adventures – a lot of fun. I did enjoy the Treasure Island audio thanks to your encouragement and this reminds me that I want to read 2001: A Space Odyssey to balance the film experience I’ve already appreciated.

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    • Haha, thank you – I had a lot of fun with this one! I’ve actually made myself want to listen to Treasure Island and watch Space Odyssey again – both so good! If you do read 2001, have the film on standby for a rewatch – the work so brilliantly when read/viewed close together. 😀

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  3. I love this meme, it is actually a really good shorthand to find out about the reading tastes of specific readers, as the answers and connections are all so wildly different. Treasure Island really works well being dramatised, and the 4.50 from Paddington is one of my favorite Christies. I’ll need to watch the film sometime for a bit of fun.

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    • Yes, I find that too when I’m reading other people’s. This one worried me, since it doesn’t include any book published later than the 1960s! I think I’ve retreated completely from the modern world… 😉 I loved that Treasure Island dramatisation and really want to listen to it again now – if only I wasn’t so slow with audiobooks! And the Rutherford films are such great fun – nothing like the real Miss Marple and they mess with the plots dreadfully, but I don’t care – she makes me happy!

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  4. Oh, such clever links, FictionFan! I like the way you’ve delved into adventure books like Tarzan. I don’t read in that sub-genre very much, and I might enjoy it if I did. And, of course, always delighted to see an Agatha Christie on your list, too! Oh, in an aside, Normal People doesn’t appeal to me at all, either…

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    • I don’t read an awful lot of adventure books either, and I don’t know why because I nearly always love them when I do! I know you’re not a fan of the Rutherford Miss Marple movies, but the book is great and there’s the Joan Hickson version for purists… 😉 Ha – everyone seems to be talking about Normal People at the moment, but I’m still not tempted…

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  5. Wow! So clever! Love how your mind works.
    I would probably also separate myself from NORMAL PEOPLE, especially in these days. There’s been enough destructive behavior.
    Always glad to see an Agatha Christie novel on the list.

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    • Ha, yes, I can do without destruction in fiction for a bit too – I can always watch the news if I feel the need for that! Agatha is a much better way to spend the time!

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    • Thanks, Cathy – they’re always fun to do! Ha, I’m so out with contemporary fiction at the moment that a book being popular almost inevitably means I’ll hate it! I think I need counselling… 😉

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  6. Any chain that ends with Patricia Highsmith is a winner. That said, while I know and love “The Price of Salt” (the basis for the film “Carol”) and have read some others, I’ve not yet read “Strangers on a Train”. Thanks for the nudge.

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    • Strangers on a Train is actually the only Highsmith I’ve read, and my love for the film got in the way a bit since the book is rather different in both story and tone. One of the few where the film won for me! I do want to read The Price of Salt and watch Carol sometime, though – in that order so the book gets first chance to impress!

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  7. What a great chain! I love Margaret Rutherford as Marple, Stranger on a Train is fab, though I haven’t read the book and I can almost see myself wanting to read Treasure Island!

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    • Haha, thank you – I must admit I was rather proud of that link myself… 😉 Yes, I think my subconscious must have been telling me I need to do some fun reading for a bit – I love all these old adventure stories.

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  8. Quite an entertaining string of books we have here! I loved Highsmith’s Talented Mr. Ripley and compared it to the film for one of my university seminar papers. So maybe I need to check out Strangers on a Train….

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    • I’ve still neither read the Ripley books nor seen the film, I’m afraid! I did enjoy the book of Strangers on a Train but it’s one of the few cases where I think the film is better. Mind you, since it’s one of my favourite films of all time that’s maybe not too surprising!

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  9. Well done, FF!! I need to read the Christie. I don’t know how I missed that one, but strange things happen, don’t they? I saw 2001 (the movie version) and was completely baffled by it. Since then, I’ve tried to catch bits and pieces of it, but I’m still baffled. We can agree on Treasure Island, at least!

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    • Oh, if you’ve missed that Christie till now, then you have a treat in store – it’s one of the good ones! Haha, I’d had the same experience with 2001 till I read the book and then suddenly the film – well, I wouldn’t go say far as to say it made sense, but I understood what was happening. And then it blew me away! One where the book and film both make each other better. Treasure Island is a classic for a reason… 😀

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  10. Excellent chain! It reminds me I have Tarzan sitting in my Kindle…. The only Arthur C. Clarke I’ve read is Childhood’s End. I remember trying to watch the film version of 2001 when I was in college and just couldn’t get into it. (there might have been extenuating circumstances 😉)

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    • Tarzan is great when you just want to be entertained! I thought 2001 was vastly better than Childhood’s End, which really didn’t do a lot for me at all. Haha, I won’t ask about those extenuating circumstances! 😉 I couldn’t make head nor tails of the film until I read the book and then suddenly it worked, and together they blew me away! One where reading the book is essential – Clarke and Kubrick intended it that way, of course.

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  11. I love where your chain took you, FF!

    I got the Rooney book from the library last year sometime, read the first two pages, and said, “Nope, I’m not in the mood for this.” It had a waiting list anyway. I haven’t been led to get it again! It’s okay, though, I’ve got MORE than enough to read. 🙂

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  12. That was a great one! I love how you quickly got from contemporary, complex relationships (I’m with you about not picking up this one) to classic adventures. A Space Odyssey is just monumental. And I love 4.50 from Paddington, but have never watched the version with Margaret Rutherford. I wonder if it is still possible to watch it, looks very old.

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    • Haha, I noticed afterwards that none of my picks are from later than the 1960s – I think I’ve lost touch with modern life and fiction completely! 😉 The Rutherford/Marple films are still great fun to watch – totally silly in terms of plots and so on but she’s just a joy to spend time with!. I think they’re only from the ’60s – they look older because they’re in black and white, I suspect. But somehow that suits them… 😀

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  13. Ok so I had to look up The Island of Dr. Moreau b/c that sounds RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!!! I loved Frankenstein, and I hadn’t really heard of Dr. Moreau, but I think I would enjoy the book. Also the 1996 movie with Val Kilmer looks terrifying LOL

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