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6 Degrees of Separation

6 Degrees of Separation: All Roads Lead to . . .

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books

This month, in keeping with the theme of the current pandemic, the starting point is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In this evocative novel, a man and his son follow a road south in a post-apocalyptic world covered with ash and devoid of hope.

1. November Road by Lou Berney takes place in late November 1963. Frank Guidry, a mid-level mobster from New Orleans, realizes that, by delivering a get-away car to Dallas, he has become a loose end in one of the biggest events in American history. Without even returning home, Guidry hits the road for California in an effort to outrun the hitman he knows will be coming after him. On the way he meets a housewife who, with her two young daughters, has finally gotten up the courage to leave her no-good drunken husband in search of a new life in Los Angeles.

2. The characters in Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates buy a house on Revolutionary Road in the suburbs hoping it will provide them the picture-perfect life of the American dream.

3. “Road dogs” are prisoners who watch out for each other while in the big house. In Elmore Leonard’s novel Road Dogs two former road dogs team up after their release to navigate their return to the world of hustles, cons, and scams.

4. In Ace Atkins’s debut novel Crossroad Blues, former NFL player turned music professor Nick Travers investigates the disappearance of an academic colleague who has disappeared while researching the mysterious death of Blues legend Robert Johnson. The novel’s title is also the title of a song written and recorded by Johnson about where he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent.

5. Donald E. Westlake’s comic caper novel The Road to Ruin features Westlake’s beloved hapless crook John Dortmunder and his band of misfits attempting to steal a corrupt corporate CEO’s collection of valuable classic cars. Since this is a Dortmunder novel, their elaborate plan does not go well. 

6. After Irish mob hitman Michael O’Sullivan’s son witnesses one of his father’s jobs, O’Sullivan’s boss orders the deaths of the entire O’Sullivan family in The Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins. Michael and his adolescent son escape the attack that kills his wife and younger son. Father and son take to the road in search of safety for themselves and vengeance for the deaths.

All of these novels with the word road in their titles dramatize the metaphor of life as a journey. Whether the road functions as a means of escape or a path to salvation or paradise, it’s the journey rather than the destination that’s important.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

8 replies on “6 Degrees of Separation: All Roads Lead to . . .”

Yes, my library book club read it back when it first came out. To be honest, I don’t remember any details except that most of the people in the book group liked it (this from a group of little old ladies who routinely read a lot more nonfiction than mysteries). It’s a fairly short book, so doesn’t require a huge time investment.

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