Six Degrees of Separation: From Postcards from the Edge to Brooklyn

Summer is on its way out, because here comes August, and I’m a day late for this month’s Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

August is holiday month for many, so no surprise that Kate’s book choice to start this month’s chain conjures holidays with its title.

Postcards from the Edge is Carrie Fisher’s semi-autobiographical novel about a filmstar trying to recover from drug addiction. It’s certainly not a holiday, although the protagonist writes postcards at the start to friends and family members.

Postcard from the Past is a Twitter account, book and podcast that draws on old postcards collected by Tom Jackson, their images shared along with a random line or two from the message on the back. They are a snapshot of British life, be it mementos of holiday destinations, ‘answers on the back of a postcard’ submissions to competitions, or messages to the milkman. On the podcast, Tom invites two guests to talk postcards they have loved, illustrated by examples from their own collection. One of my favourite episodes features Helen Day, who curates Ladybird Fly Away Home, a site dedicated to the art and literature of Ladybird Books

I had many Ladybird books, a fair few inherited from my older siblings, meaning they ranged from learning to read to handicrafts and vehicles to fairytales. My number one favourite Ladybird Book was Rapunzel, which I would repeatedly ask my mum to read to me. To my great regret, in preparation for a house move that involved putting some of my belongings temporarily into storage, I decided to dispose of my Ladybird Book collection. I miss them still.

A set of childhood books that I kept hold of, because they meant more to me than the Ladybird Books, was Alison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit series. I loved all of the characters, especially Hare, Fuzzypeg and Moldy Warp, and Little Grey Rabbit’s Party was my favourite.

Another childhood book that shared a woodland theme and that was another favourite of mine is The Little Grey Men go Down the Bright Stream by BB. In this second installment in the adventures of the Little Grey Men, the gnomes of the title must find a new home, as the brook beside which they reside is drying up. It’s an ecological parable and I read it over and over again.

The nomes of Terry Pratchett’s Truckers don’t live in the woodland but under the floorboards of a department store. Their home is similarly threatened, though, as the department store is closing down and everything must go, including them. And so they set off to the Outside.

Eilis Lacey’s home isn’t under threat, but the lack of opportunity for a young woman leads to Eilis leaving anyway, to start a new life in Brooklyn, where she finds work in a department store and meets a man. Life is never straightforward, and for Eilis this involves balancing her new life with the family she left behind in Ireland. Colm Toibin’s novel Brooklyn is a beautiful book.

My chain might seem haphazard, but all the books in it are about community, family, friendship, the people we rely on, the lives we carve out together.

What would you put in a chain? Head over to Kate’s blog to find out what other readers have chosen.

9 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Postcards from the Edge to Brooklyn

  1. Funnily enough, this avid reader didn’t particularly like Ladybird books – I disliked the illustrations; Alison Uttley; or BB. Postcards from the Past sounds fun, though I don’t ‘do’ Twitter. So that leaves me with Brooklyn, which I loved, as, er, I’m not a Pratchett fan either. I’m not usually so at variance with you, Jan!

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    1. Postcard from the Past is fun. I haven’t bought the book yet, but I love the randomness of the Twitter account. It’s a beacon of joy in an otherwise sludgy cesspit. If you listen to podcasts, Margaret, Tom’s is worth seeking out.

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      1. I still haven’t got into podcasts. When one is recommended, I try it, but then …. somehow it’s not like going into a library or a bookshop. I just don’t know where to start.

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      2. I don’t listen to many – I find the range of them overwhelming and I’m not great at sitting and listening. I’d rather read! It’s rare that one grabs me enough to listen regularly, but I have a couple that I go to for long car journeys. I like your bookshop/library analogy – I know exactly what you mean!

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  2. I love your chain, particularly all the childhood books. I know I read constantly as a young child, but I don’t remember much about what I read. And most of my books came from the local small-town library. After I outgrew Little Golden Books, there wasn’t much money or interest in our house for buying books. I envy those of you who actually have some books from your childhood.

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    1. Thanks, Mary, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was very lucky. My mum worked in a library and staff could buy books at a discounted rate from the wholesaler or ‘The Book Man’ who visited the library branch once a month, so a lot of mine came to me that way. Books were very important to my mum, who similarly didn’t own many books until she started working.

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  3. Jan, I studied the book covers at the top of the post and tried to guess your connections – no surprise that I struggled but it was fun! We chose the same title for our first link, albeit different books. I noticed your version when saving the book cover of mine and wondered what Jackson’s was about. Now I know! I wasn’t a fan of Utley but loved Ladybird books. I don’t read Pratchett but your description of this one reminded me of The Borrowers. And Melissa Harrison has recently published her own homage to Little Grey Men which is rated highly. I may have to indulge in that one! Brooklyn is a favourite. Loved this chain 😊

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    1. It’s quite a leap from Postcard from the Past to Rapunzel if you don’t know the connection!

      I loved Little Grey Rabbit so much that my mum bought me the card game. I saved it from her house, but I can’t remember where I’ve stashed it. Somewhere safe, no doubt!

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