Six Degrees of Separation: from Fleishman is in Trouble to The Saga of Erik the Viking

I had 55 minutes of the first Saturday of the month left as I typed this, and I just about remembered that it’s Six Degrees of Separation day. Head over to Books Are My Favourite And Best to find out more about this monthly challenge.

This month’s starting book is Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

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I knew nothing about this book, so I looked it up. Its premise didn’t spark anything in particular. I looked up the author and found she used to be a journalist. I tried, but that didn’t spark anything either.

I am full of a cold, though. Maybe that’s the problem.

Taffy is a Welsh nickname, so I thought about books by Welsh writers.

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Richard Llewellyn wrote one of my favourite pieces of Welsh historical fiction, about a family of miners in the South Wales valleys during the reign of Queen Victoria. How Green Was My Valley captured my teenage heart when I read it. As with most teenage girls, I had a tendency towards the tragic and the romantic. Narrator Huw Morgan is a bright boy given the chance to leave behind the dangers and deprivations of coal mining. We meet him as he is leaving his village, and he tells us of everything that has happened there.

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Sarah Waters writes historical fiction set in the Victorian era, too. Her fiction is less nostalgic than How Green Was My Valley, taking feminism, lesbianism and society’s attitude towards sex as her main themes. I’ve only read two of her books, and Fingersmith is my favourite. It’s a book I’ve included in my Six Degrees lists before. In April 2018 and January 2019.

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Is Noir another form of historical fiction? A tenuous link made more so because Malcolm Pryce isn’t entirely Welsh. He’s a Shropshire lad transplanted to Aberystwyth as a child. I took my first degree at Aberystwyth. Consequently, because I like crime novels and was curious about Pryce’s Aberystwyth Noir, I read his first book Aberystwyth Mon Amour. This introduced an alternative reality Aber, protected from a Druidical crime syndicate by private detective Louie Knight, where veterans from the imaginary Patagonian War have returned to Aber dejected. It was a diverting book, I recall, but I haven’t read any more in the series.

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I read Joe Dunthorne’s first book Submarine, too. This is a coming of age story in which 15 year old Oliver has to navigate his parents’ ailing marriage and his own confusing and unsettled romance with his is-she-isn’t-she girlfriend. It’s a bittersweet comedy. The film adaptation is also good.

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The comedian Dawn French was born in Holyhead, making her technically Welsh despite her Devon roots, a reversal of Pryce’s Welshness. I haven’t read any of her fiction, but I’d like to read Oh Dear Silvia, about a woman in a coma and the friends and family who visit her, each thinking that they know her. In truth, none of them know the real Silvia.

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Another comedian with a literary string to their bow is Terry Jones. It would have been Terry Jones’ 78th birthday today. He and Michael Palin were my favourite Pythons. I loved their twinkly, silly warmth. I haven’t read any of Jones’ books, either, but I like the sound of his Saga of Erik the Viking. In his quest to find the land where the sun goes at night, Erik has many epic adventures. I think the same is true of Terry Jones. I hope he’s resting easy in the land where the sun goes at night.

There’s my chain with its thread of Welshness running through. I brought in tenuous links around historical fiction, first novels, what constitutes Welshness and comedians as authors. Where would your chain of books take you?

Why not join in with the Six Degrees fun at host Kate’s blog?

3 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from Fleishman is in Trouble to The Saga of Erik the Viking

    1. Thank you! It’s amazing who and what can be linked together, isn’t it? I think Kate wins the prize this month with Lil Wayne, though.

      I saw Dawn French on The Graham Norton Show fairly recently (I say recently, I looked it up – it was 18 months ago), so had been reminded of her existence. I hadn’t realised that she is technically Welsh until I made this chain, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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