It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.
This month the Six Degrees chain begins with Phosphorescence by Julia Baird, who is an Australian author. The book won’t be published here in the UK until 27 May. Julia Baird reflects on her encounters with phosphorescence, a luminescent phenomenon found in the natural world, and how she was able to cultivate her own ‘inner light’ in the face of suffering and illness. I think I’d like to read it.
I didn’t know where to start my chain, so I used my Search Box to see if I had used the word phosphorescence previously on my blog – and I had, just once. It’s in a passage I quoted from D H Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, when he described Paul Morel’s grief and sadness after his mother’s death, and yet also his hope for the future:
Turning sharply, he walked towards the city’s gold phosphorescence. His fists were shut, his mouth set fast. He would not take that direction, to the darkness, to follow her. He walked towards the faintly humming, glowing town, quickly.
I read Sons and Lovers in 2007 and another book I read then is The Moon and Sixpence by W Somerset Maugham, a novel about Charles Strickland, who was a stockbroker; a boring, man. He left his wife and family after seventeen years of marriage and fled to Paris, because he wanted to paint. It is roughly based on the life of Gauguin, which reminded me I have Gauguin By Himself, a massive book that contains copies of his paintings, drawings, ceramic, sculpture and prints together with his written words.
Gaugin’s relationship with Vincent Van Gogh described in his book leads me on to Van Gogh and A S Byatt’s book, Still Life in which Alexander Wedderburn struggles to make a play about Van Gogh. The cover painting on my copy is Van Gogh’s Still Life with Coffeepot.
Another book called Still Life is Val McDermid’s latest Karen Pirie mystery. It combines a cold case investigation into the identity of a skeleton found in a campervan and a current case into the discovery of a body in the Firth of Forth.
The Burry Man’s Day is the second in Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver series. It is set in South Queensferry, on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, where there is an annual Ferry Fair and the Burry Man Parade. A local man is covered from head to ankles in burrs and walks round the town, taking a nip of whisky at every stop. When Dandy visits the Parade, the Burry Man drops down dead at the end of the Parade, apparently poisoned. The list of suspects includes all those who gave him a nip of whisky.
My chain begins with awe and wonder and ends in murder, linking together sons and lovers, artists, and detectives.
Next month (April 3, 2021), we’ll start with the 2020 Booker Prize winner, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – a book I haven’t read.