December’s Six Degrees, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite And Best, starts with It by Stephen King.
I haven’t read It, yet, but I like King’s writing. I particularly liked Thinner, a book about a man who is cursed by a Roma man in an act of revenge. The curse makes the protagonist lose weight rapidly. He tracks down the Roma group and pleads to be released from the curse, but the only way this can happen is if he can pass it along via a pie baked with his cursed blood. King wrote Thinner under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
Another best selling author who has used a pseudonym is J K Rowling. She writes the Cormoran Strike series under the name Robert Galbraith. I read The Cuckoo’s Calling and was really impressed by her skill in writing something that is both gritty and funny, as well as being a good example of the mystery genre.
Mystery is one of my favourite genres, and the best mystery novel I read this year is Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. The story takes place on board the Titanic, where various people with secrets to hide and new lives to pursue get mixed up together and are then thrown apart again by the disaster. None of the mysteries are resolved, because Bainbridge is true to the nature of the world, where very few things are tied up as neatly as fiction likes to suggest they can be.
Every Man for Himself takes a real event from history and wraps a story around it that makes the tragedy of the real event its background. Similarly, Ali Smith’s book Winter (review coming soon), the second in her seasonal quartet of which Autumn is the first, takes the reality of Brexit Britain as its backdrop and weaves a story through it, across it and around it that talks about human nature and the ways in which we see and don’t see what’s happening in front of us.
I discovered Ali Smith by chance. I didn’t see her happening in front of me until I read two of the more recently translated books for adults by Tove Jansson, the introductions to which were written by Ali Smith. I’m choosing the novel The True Deceiver as my sixth degree. Smith describes it thus:
The True Deceiver glitters with the kind of sharpness that might just cut you… It is one of Jansson’s most deceptively quiet, most astonishing compositions.
It’s a book about the complex reasons that people behave in certain ways, and how we aren’t always honest with ourselves let alone anyone else.
I had to end with a book by a woman in translation. Stephen King and J K Rowling masquerading as a man aside, it’s another run of female writers, too. Why not head over to Kate’s blog and join in? You don’t have to have read the books to make the connections.