Book covers: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, Billy Summers by Stephen King, Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow, The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, The Women by T.C. Boyle, Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

6 Degrees: What’s in a Name?

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’s starting point is Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang. This novel, which won the Booker Prize and several other awards in 2001, opens with this declaration:

. . . my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.

first degree

Another book I read recently in which the protagonist writes his life story is Billy Summers by Stephen King.

second degree

Billy Summers suggests Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow. This Billy has insinuated himself into the notorious gang of Dutch Schultz. Billy describes the murderous gangster world as he works his way up into the inner circle.

third degree

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins is another novel that presents a picture of the gangster world from the inside.

fourth degree

Coyle rhymes with Boyle. T.C. Boyle is the author of The Women, a novel about the many well publicized affairs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

fifth degree

Sweet Little Lies, Caz Frear’s debut novel, features London Metropolitan Police Detective Cat Kinsella. Like Frank Lloyd Wright, Cat’s father has had several affairs over the years. Eighteen years earlier the young Cat had been in the car with her father when he picked up a hitchhiking teenager, Maryanne Doyle, while on vacation in Ireland. Shortly thereafter Maryanne Doyle disappeared. Cat has always wondered whether her father could have been responsible for the disappearance. Now, in London, Cat has caught a murder case, and the victim, who was using a different name, has been unquestionably identified as Maryanne Doyle. Cat can’t help but wonder: Could her father have been involved in the woman’s death?

sixth degree

Another Kinsella, W.P. Kinsella, wrote Shoeless Joe, a book about baseball that was the basis for the film Field of Dreams (“If you build it, they will come”). The main character of Shoeless Joe is named Ray Kinsella. Do I get bonus points for this double connection?

And that’s this month’s 6 Degrees, based mostly on the question: What’s in a name?

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

5 thoughts on “6 Degrees: What’s in a Name?”

  1. Nice list, and always good to see ‘Billy Summers’ on there, a book I greatly enjoyed. Definitely deserve an extra point for the added Kinsella.

  2. Great list. Enjoyed the idea of names. It’s interesting, but not surprising I guess, how so many links involve crime books. I’ve heard of a few of your authors here – King, Doctorow and Boyle.

  3. A great chain! A legal book group I’m in read The Friends of Eddie Coyle last year – I ran out of time but attended the discussion anyway because the Judge I clerked for knew Higgins and had some interesting perspective.

    My sister liked Sweet Little Eyes better than I did and I think has read later books in the series.

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