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 we start with a bestselling work of autobiographical fiction, Postcards From the Edge (1987) by Carrie Fisher. Wednesday will be the 30th anniversary of my reading it (August 11, 1991). The novel tells the story of 30-year-old actress Suzanne Vale as she goes through drug rehab and tries to put her life back together. My remembrance of this novel is that it was both poignant and, at times, quite funny.
1. In searching for other books on the edge, I came across Edge of Eternity (2014), the concluding book in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, which “has followed the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh – as they make their way through the twentieth century” (according to Goodreads). I love both big, sprawling family sagas and Ken Follett’s work (especially his trilogy that begins with Pillars of the Earth), so now I’m planning to queue up the Century Trilogy on my Kindle to take on my next extended trip.
2. While Suzanne Vale was mailing in her postcards from the edge, Connie Ramos, the Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) by Marge Piercy, was waiting patiently on my Kindle for me to get to her. According to Marge Piercy’s bio on Goodreads, Woman on the Edge of Time:
mixes a time travel story with issues of social justice, feminism, and the treatment of the mentally ill. This novel is considered a classic of utopian “speculative” science fiction as well as a feminist classic.
Time travel, social justice, feminism, and mental illness: What’s not to love?
3. But I particularly want to read Woman on the Edge of Time because I loved Piercy’s novel Gone to Soldiers (1987) so much that I gave it five stars on Goodreads. I’m a fool for big, sprawling novels (see #1), and this Big Book presents the stories of several characters who are all affected in some way by World War II.
4. I recently read another novel that features characters caught up in World War II. Second Generation (1978) by Howard Fast is the second book in his Immigrants series (another big, sprawling family saga). The main character of this novel, Barbara Lavette, working in Europe as a foreign correspondent, gets pulled into both the reportorial and the political intrigue of the war before returning to her hometown of San Francisco.
5. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013) by Anthony Marra also focuses on characters caught up in war, this time in 2004 in a rural village in Chechnya. I loved this novel for the way in which it shows how human interaction can work wonders, even in the face of something as grim as war. In the end, what goes around comes around.
6. How It All Began (2011) by Penelope Lively opens with a 77-year-old widow getting mugged. Her injuries require her to move in with her middle-aged daughter for a while, which in turn means that the daughter cannot go on a planned business trip, which means that someone else must take her place, and on that trip the someone else runs into . . . . As in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, one event leads to another, which in turn leads to another, and so on. In a generally upbeat way, this novel illustrates how random acts and coincidences often have as much effect on how our lives turn out as do all our best laid plans.
Much in that same way that, in 6 Degrees of Separation, one book leads to another.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown