From Lincoln in the Bardo #6degrees

Kate has another challenge for us in linking books starting from Lincoln in the Bardo this month in Six Degrees of Separation. I haven’t read the book by George Saunders yet, but I do have it lined up somewhere in the cloud waiting for my new Kindle to arrive. (Yes, I can’t find my previous one, so had to give in and order a new one)

The book famously deals with American president Abraham Lincoln and his grief at losing his son. Another American almost-president who lost a son is Alexander Hamilton and I’ve been relishing the book about the making of the stage show Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Congratulations, Lin-Manuel on the birth of your second child a couple of days ago!)

The degree to which Hamilton is viewed with envy by Aaron Burr and the way the story is narrated reminded me very much of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, where Salieri also grumbles and can’t quite believe that God wasted all his gifts on such an unworthy recipient (to his mind), yet finally realises his own mediocrity.

There are plenty of books with musical connections, but one which particularly stuck with me in recent years was The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, showing three key moments in the life of composer Dmitri Shostakovich, his fear of the Soviet regime and his giving in to it (but forever haunted by that).

Of course, the book about censorship and destruction of culture is Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which terrified me when I first read it as a child. Perhaps because I was living in conditions which reminded me a bit of those extremes. Ah, those photocopied forbidden books, and badly dubbed bootlegged copies of forbidden films!

Thirteen Hours by Deon Meyer also has a number in its title and is a tense thriller set in one of my favourite places on earth, Cape Town, and one of my favourite scruffy but reliable detectives, Benny Griessel. Not perhaps a glowing advertisement for visiting South Africa (as a young American tourist is hunted through the streets of the city), but a great sense of atmosphere.

For my final link, I will stick to another South African writer who I think deserves to be far, far better known, but whose downfall is perhaps that she writes across all genres. Lauren Beukes is one of the most creative minds in modern fiction and has achieved some recognition for The Shining Girls about a time-travelling serial killer (now that I’ve read Hawksmoor, it reminds me a little of that). But I would like to link here an earlier book of hers, Moxyland, a political thriller about race, discrimination and being controlled by technology.

So from 19th and 18th century America to Vienna to the Soviet Union and South Africa, as well as a couple of dystopian unnamed societies. Where will your bookish travels take you this month?

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15 thoughts on “From Lincoln in the Bardo #6degrees”

  1. You certainly travelled far and wide this month! Such a wonderfully wide range of titles in your 6 Degrees. I’m wondering if I should read Fahrenheit 451, as I never have, but your description makes me wonder if it will ring true today.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I think F451 is still quite valid in terms of indoctrination and fear of people who think differently, although there are some sexist attitudes perhaps which are out of date.

  2. I love the way you took your chain! Certainly broad ranging and from music to classics to crime novels. Well done! I haven’t read F451 either and, at this point in my life, probably won’t. I might read a book by Deon Meyer though. Ha!

  3. Really interesting, Marina Sofia. You know, I hadn’t thought about the connection between Hamilton and Amadeus before, but it’s really there. And glad to see Fahrenheit 451 here. A very timely book still…

  4. A fascinating chain! The only one I’ve read is Thirteen Hours, which is very good. It’s amazing the variety of books covered by all the different chains.

    (I agree with your comment on my post about how moving Bayley’s book is – and the film. I watched it at the cinema, before reading the book, and I wasn’t the only person there moved to tears. It was indeed so sad the Iris Murdoch ended up like that and having a connection through your friend’s mother really brings it home to you.)

  5. That’s a great chain, with an impressive geographical and historical range! I haven’t read any of those books apart from Lincoln in the Bardo, but there are some I am interested in reading, particularly The Noise of Time.

  6. What a fascinating chain! I’ve read none of the books you’ve chosen, MarinaSofia, but you’ve reminded me about Amadeus, and Barnes – why have I still not got around to reading anything of his!

  7. I am reading Lullaby, so probably to France! I was there more than 10 years ago and I loved it because it was my very first experience abroad.

  8. A great chain…and I particularly enjoyed your thoughts on the book about the making of Hamilton. I don’t like musicals, I know little about early American politics but still the success of the show is such a feel good story…much needed in these troubling times

  9. Love your links between Hamilton, Amadeus and Noise of Time.

    We have a family movie night once a week, taking it turns to pick a movie – I always choose 80s and 90s classics and it just so happens that Amadeus is my next pick!

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