6 Degrees of Separation: The Signature of All Things

Greetings, bookworms and welcome back to Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly meme in which myself and fellow author Emma Chapman invite you to link six books in a chain, according to whatever connections spring to mind.  This month’s chain begins with one of my recent favourites, Elizabeth Gilbert‘s novel The Signature of All Things which features a beautiful love affair between two extraordinary characters who are both ahead of their time, and in many respects, a perfect match.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s love story brought to mind the love between two other extraordinary characters, in Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda.

My first novel A New Map of the Universe told the story of an architect building a house for her lover. I wrote it as part of a PhD which also comprised an essay about architecture as metaphor in contemporary Australian fiction. I featured Oscar and Lucinda in this essay, as well as Kate Grenville’s novel The Idea of Perfection.

The Idea of Perfection is about the rebuilding of an iconic bridge in an Australian country town. Michael Ondaatje’s gorgeous novel In the Skin of a Lion is also about the building of a bridge, in Toronto, Canada.

The bridge in Ondaatje’s novel is built by migrant workers, whose lives are often very hard. Richard Flanagan’s novel The Sound of One Hand Clapping also deals with the plight of migrant workers, this time those working on the Hydroelectric scheme in Tasmania.

From The Sound of One Hand Clapping to The Sound of Things Falling – a book by Juan Gabriel Vasquez which is on my to-read list. The author is being hailed as one of the great new Latin American writers.

Another much-lauded latin American writer is Roberto Bolaño, whose novel 2666 I read for book club a few years ago.

Signature of All Things 6

From love between characters ahead of their time, to bridges, to books I wrote about in my PhD, to migrant workers, and writers who come from the same geographical region, we hopped from The Signature of All Things to 2666 in 6 steps. I wonder where Emma Chapman ended up in her chain? Where will the chain take you? If you have a blog, I’d love you to play along; if not you can post your chain in the comments.

Next month: On Saturday August 1st the chain will begin with Sarah Waters The Paying Guests

#6degrees rules

10 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: The Signature of All Things

    1. For me 2666 was one of those books which had some amazing writing but didn’t bring any sense of resolution, so I felt frustrated when I got to the end and wondered why I’d bothered. There is also some pretty harrowing descriptions of rape and murder. So it was very hard going in places.

    1. Thanks for taking part, Anne! I find we often have a lot of preconceptions about books we haven’t read, or at the very least about their authors, so I find connections springing to mind even for books I haven’t read. In fact, one blogger created an entire chain out of books she was yet to read!

    1. Oh, you have to read The Signature of All Things, it is truly gorgeous. However, if you were to only read ONE book on this list, I’m glad it was mine you chose!

  1. I haven’t read The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, or indeed anything else she’s written since reading Eat, Pray, Love. Not a fan.

    Another book I read that put me off ever reading anything by the author is My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Most of the book is superb but the ending is so bad it totally ruined it for me.

    My Sister’s Keeper was made into a movie that had a different ending to the book which also happened with the movie adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote.

    The narrator in Breakfast in Tiffany’s is unnamed though Holly calls him Fred. Our narrator in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is also unnamed but is called Offred by virtue of her position.

    In The Handmaid’s Tale civil rights are stripped from women after the U.S. Constitution is suspended by the Republic of Gilead. The starting point of Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin is a number of amendments to the U.S. Constitution repealing and restricting the rights of women.

    A major backdrop (if that’s not a contradiction!) of Native Tongue is the existence of alien interactions with Earth. Alien Blues by Lynn S Hightower is set in a future where the alien Elaki have arrived on Earth and are coexisting with humans.

    At it’s heart Alien Blues is an odd-couple-cop story with science fiction elements which I feel is also a good description of John Scalzi’s Lock In.

    1. I didn’t read Eat, Pray, Love because it did not sound like my kind of book. But lots of people told me The Signature of All Things was very different, and raved about it, and then I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speak at Perth Writers Fest and she was so smart and witty and articulate I wanted to give one of her books a go, and I’m glad I did. One blogger I know says she gives every writer two chances to impress her – and I’d urge you to do this with Liz Gilbert!

      Your connection for unnamed – called Fred, and unnamed called Offred is SHEER GENIUS!

      Native Tongue also sounds really interesting, I’m adding that to my TBR. Thanks for playing!

      1. Native Tongue is the first of a trilogy though from memory I think the first novel stands well enough alone. I say from memory because it must be over 20 years since I last read it.

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