Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman Is in Trouble to Shotgun Lovesongs

I’ve not participated in Kate’s Six Degrees of Separation meme before, although I’d seen it around on other people’s blogs. I think all this time I’d misunderstood, assuming that you had to go from the start point to one particular end point. Instead, bloggers are given one book to start with and then have free rein to link it to six other books in whatever ways. Most of the fun is in seeing the different directions and destinations people choose. I am always drawing connections between books I read and noting coincidences (e.g., my occasional Book Serendipity posts), so this is a perfect meme for me! I’m very late in posting this month – for a while I was stuck on link #4 – but next month I’ll be right on it.


#1 Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: I didn’t care for this debut novel about a crumbling marriage and upper-middle-class angst in contemporary New York City. A major plot point is the mother going missing, just like in Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, a very pleasing epistolary novel I read in 2013.

#2 There’s also an absent Bernadette in Run by Ann Patchett (2007), which opens with a killer line: “Bernadette had been dead two weeks when her sisters showed up in Doyle’s living room asking for the statue back.” (Alas, I abandoned the novel after 80 pages; it has a lot of interesting elements, but they don’t seem to fit together in the same book.)

#3 Ann Patchett wrote for Seventeen magazine for nine years. Before she ever published a novel, Meg Wolitzer was a winner of Seventeen’s fiction contest. Wolitzer’s The Wife (2003), my current book club read in advance of our March meeting, is a bitingly funny novel narrated by a woman trapped in a support role to her supposedly genius writer husband.

#4 I’ve heard great things about the recent film version of The Wife, which has Glenn Close as Joan Castleman. Close also stars as the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons (1988). The 1782 Choderlos de Laclos novel was one of the texts we focused on in one of my freshman college courses, Screening Literature. For our final projects, we compared a few film adaptations. My group got Cruel Intentions (1999), a teen flick that provided one of Reese Witherspoon’s breakout roles.

#5 Witherspoon is giving Oprah a run for her money with her Hello Sunshine book club, which has chosen some terrific stuff. I happen to have read nine of her picks so far, and of those I particularly enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

#6 Daisy is said to have been inspired by the personal and professional complications of the band Fleetwood Mac. The musical roman à clef element isn’t necessary to understanding the novel, but is fun to ponder. In the same way, Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler features a musician modeled after singer/songwriter Bon Iver. I adored Shotgun Lovesongs and have a review of it coming out as part of Friday’s post, so consider this your teaser…


And there we have it! My first ever #6Degrees of Separation.

Have you read any of my selections? Are you tempted by any you didn’t know before?

12 responses

  1. I’ve read none of these – but I really should join the challenge. Watch this space. Not quite yet though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good fun, though more challenging than it looks. I had two possible routes and agonized over them in my head for over a week before I finalized things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so pleased you’ve joined the Six Degrees club. I knew you’d be good at it, although I warn you – it’s addictive! Also delighted that you love Shotgun Lovesongs, a favourite of mine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it’s the only meme you participate in, so I should have known it would be a good one 🙂 I really enjoyed putting it together, but next month I’ll know to start earlier!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I haven’t done one of these yet, but I’ve followed them along with delight. One of these days I will participate! Loved your route Rebecca and I too really loved Shotgun Lovesongs!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I saw the movie version of The Wife. No humor there. Sad. Well done.


    1. Hmm, sounds like they didn’t capture the wit of Joan Castleman’s narration, then. Another book club member recommended the movie. I’m unlikely to watch it because rentals cost £3+ from our library. ________________________________


  4. Yay! We got you – this tag is such fun, I got waylaid by other things this month. I’ve been meaning to read the Nickolas Butler ever since it came out and Susan loved it so much, but I’ve only actually read Daisy Jones from this bunch – which I adored.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Semple and Wolitzer would also be right up your street.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wolitzer certainly, Semple – mebbe, I wasn’t wowed by her second…


    2. Do you mean Today Will Be Different? That was dreadful! Bernadette felt completely different to me.


      1. Yes, that was the one. Glad Bernadette is better!


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