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Urban Leaving to Country Living

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION from Revolutionary Road


This link-up is hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best, and was inspired by Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy. In his 1929 short story, “Chains”, Karinthy coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. The phrase was popularized by a 1990 play written by John Guare, which was later made into a film starring Stockard Channing.

On the first Saturday of every month, Kate chooses a book as a starting point and links that book to six others forming a chain. Bloggers and readers are invited to join in and the beauty of this mini-challenge is that I can decide how and why I make the links in my chain

6 Degrees of Separation December 2016 photo 2016-12 Revolutionary Road_zps9i7cdlfy.jpg

December’s starting book is Richard Yates’ 1961 classic Revolutionary Road. This is another starting book that I haven’t read yet. Amazon tells me that “It’s the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner.”

1. Revolutionary Road came into my sphere of awareness about the same time as Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwarz, which has nothing at all to do with Yates’ novel, except that I confused them in my mind for a couple of years. Reservation Road is the story of man who accidently runs over a young boy and flees the scene. It was made into a movie with Mark Ruffalo in 2007.

2. In 2011, the sequel Northwest Corner by the same author was published. It tells the story of the same man, after he is released from prison some years later and is trying to start his life over. I won a copy of this in a blog giveaway and read it in January 2012.

3. Another book I read in January 2012 was Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion 1917 by Sally Walker.

Imagine the greatest manmade explosion in history prior to the atomic bomb. That was what was detonated in Halifax Harbour in December of 1917, killing two thousand people, leaving more than six thousand wounded, many of them blinded by flying glass, and over 9,000 homeless. Relief efforts were hampered by a blizzard the day after the explosion.

The style of this book is a middle-school textbook but it’s well worth the read.

4. Since The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy is set throughout the year of 1917, in France and in Chester Nova Scotia, just a few miles outside Halifax, I expected the Explosion to play some part in the story. I was disappointed that it rated only a passing reference near the end of the book.

5. The explosion also has a bit part in Ami McKay’s The Birth House. The bulk of this story takes place in the years 1916-1919, in Nova Scotia, this time on the Bay of Fundy shore.

The protagonist, Dora Rae, is befriended and mentored by the community’s midwife/herbalist. Over the course of her life, Dora’s house becomes the birth house—or the place where the women of the community go to have their babies, rather than taking the sometimes dangerous trip into the nearest town where ‘modern’ male medicine suits their needs somewhat less.

The midwives offered onion juice as a tonic to their expectant and new mothers.

6. Another book where onions have medicinal purposes is Holes by Louis Sachar, a 1999 multiple award winning children’s chapter book. Our protagonist Stanley Yelnats has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center in the desert, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep.

There’s a mystery told in flashback so the reader is always ahead of Stanley but just, and there’s piecing together for the reader to do too. It’s actually quite a bit of fun. (The onions play a part in the flashback bits.)

So there you have it: from 1950s suburbia to a 1990s boys’ detention centre, via the first world war. What do you think?

Why not visit Kate’s blog and see how she made the final connection to Rush Oh!

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

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22 Comments to

“SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION from Revolutionary Road”

  1. On December 3rd, 2016 at 6:46 am Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest Says:

    You win the award for most creative link – onions!

    Thanks for joining in 🙂

  2. On December 3rd, 2016 at 1:36 pm Debbie Says:

    Thanks, Kate – and thank you for hosting Six Degrees of Separation!

  3. On December 3rd, 2016 at 7:37 am maria helena Says:

    The onion link is brilliant!

  4. On December 3rd, 2016 at 1:37 pm Debbie Says:

    I’m glad you liked it, Maria Helen!

  5. On December 3rd, 2016 at 10:54 am Margaret @ BooksPlease Says:

    My chain features the first world war too and a different book with ‘road’ in the title! Apart from that they are very different chains. The Halifax explosions sounds amazing and as for the onions – well what can I say? An onion juice tonic sounds most unpleasant.

  6. On December 3rd, 2016 at 1:43 pm Debbie Says:

    The Halifax Explosion is all the more incredible, Margaret, for not being well-known outside of Atlantic Canada, even within Canada, never mind the rest of the world.

    I agree – I’m not trying the onion juice. ;-(

  7. On December 3rd, 2016 at 9:24 pm Whispering Gums Says:

    Haha, love it Debbie. You spent time pottering around 1917 Nova Scotia and then fed us onions! What fun.

    BTW I had never heard of that explosion. Blizzard of glass is a great title.

  8. On December 4th, 2016 at 7:12 pm Debbie Says:

    It really is a great title, Sue. I think the flying glass did as much personal damage as the blast itself.

  9. On December 4th, 2016 at 2:16 am Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest Says:

    The funny thing was that when I saw “greatest manmade explosion in history”, I first read it as “greatest marmalade explosion in history” and I thought “Wow! A marmalade explosion?!” 😀

  10. On December 4th, 2016 at 7:12 pm Debbie Says:

    And this was the greatest one, Kate. All the others were only one small jar at a time. 🙂

  11. On December 4th, 2016 at 8:04 am Annabel Says:

    Been meaning to read Reservation Road for ages – I have it on the shelves. I’d forgotten about the onions in Holes!

  12. On December 4th, 2016 at 7:17 pm Debbie Says:

    I might have forgotten about the onions in Holes too, Annabel except I have such a clear picture in my mind of Dulé Hill hawking those onions in the film version.

  13. On December 4th, 2016 at 2:46 pm Toady Says:

    It’s great seeing all of you start with the same book and see where you end up. I have been reading several of these posts. Genius! 🙂

  14. On December 4th, 2016 at 7:18 pm Debbie Says:

    It is one of the most interesting memes to read, Toady. And fun to do, as well as challenging!

  15. On December 4th, 2016 at 9:44 pm Lisa Says:

    Loved The Birth House! Read it with my book club and it was one of the best discussions we’ve ever had. Also enjoyed Reservation Road and Northwest Corner.

  16. On December 6th, 2016 at 2:16 pm Debbie Says:

    Lisa, it’s great when someone can connect to so many books in my chain! Thanks for letting me know.

  17. On December 5th, 2016 at 9:30 pm Naomi Says:

    I used to get those two books mixed up, as well! And I read them around the same time. Both were complete downers, but good ones. 🙂

    I haven’t read Blizzard of Glass, but for a while I was reading all the books about the explosion I could find (and still am). I was sticking to fiction, though, and Blizzard of Glass sounds like it might be non-fiction?

    I love The Birth House – would like to re-read that one some time.

  18. On December 6th, 2016 at 2:17 pm Debbie Says:

    Yes, Naomi, Blizzard of Glass is nonfiction, and it’s written at a middle-school level. If you know about the explosion already, it likely won’t give you any new insights.

  19. On December 6th, 2016 at 6:06 pm Julia Says:

    Wow! You are good at this. Holes is a great book – a favorite among me and my children. I love how everything comes together at the end.

  20. On December 7th, 2016 at 11:10 am Debbie Says:

    Some months are easier than others, Julia.

    Holes really is a great story, isn’t it? It just occurred to me that it’s a perfect bedtime story for our 8-yr-old grandson.

  21. On December 6th, 2016 at 10:54 pm Judy Krueger Says:

    I think what you did here is great! Holes was a revelation to me in terms of children’s lit. I just loved it. So for one degree of separation I can say that in Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, the family that follows the path of building cathedrals is always eating an onion along with their bread and cheese for lunch.

  22. On December 7th, 2016 at 11:48 am Debbie Says:

    That’s great, Judy! I had forgotten that about Pillars of the Earth.

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