6 Degrees of Separation: Fates and Furies

This game is like “6 Degrees from Kevin Bacon” only with books. You can join in too; the rules are here.

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  1. This month we start with Lauren Groff’s bestselling Fates and Furies, which I have not yet read but which is the story of Lotto and Mathilde’s loving marriage. Except halfway through the perspective shifts, and we realise all is not as it seems…
  2. Fates and Furies was shortlisted for the 2015 National Book Award. The winner of that award was Adam Johnson’s collection of short stories, Fortune Smiles, which focuses on (amongst other things) technology, politics, and relationships.
  3. The title story of that collection is reminiscent, in its East Asian setting and flavour of surreal weirdness, of Haruki Murakami. The only novel of his that I’ve read all the way through is The Wind-Up Bird Chroniclewhich features dream sex, spaghetti, and a cat named after the protagonist’s brother-in-law.
  4. My favourite fictional cat has got to be Behemoth, the whisky-drinking, cigar-smoking, pistol-toting kitty from Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.
  5. I read most of The Master and Margarita in a Heathrow departure lounge on the way home for Christmas one year. Another year, in the same place, I read Hans Fallada’s bleak novel of resistance to Nazism, Alone In Berlin, which I would not recommend as airplane reading, to put it lightly. It is good—beyond good; almost essential—but extremely disturbing.

From a deceptive American marriage to the deepest questions of personal responsibility in mid-century Germany, via surrealist Japan and satirical Russia: a better geographical spread this month, though still quite Eurocentric. Does anyone have a different favourite fictional cat? I thought about Dinah, from Alice in Wonderland, or Tabitha Twitchit of Beatrix Potter, or, of course, Mrs. Norris from the Harry Potter series…

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10 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: Fates and Furies

  1. Ah, so close, just when I thought I had read all of the books you mentioned, up crops that collection of short stories Fortune Smiles! I too have read a lot of books in airport lounges and on planes.

      • Is it? I’m glad someone’s told me that. I haven’t read it but the cover made my soul sigh a bit every time. I assumed it was just me being sour.

      • Whoops, my previous reply went in the wrong place. I was going to say flying is a necessary evil for people in our kind of situation. And I like reading books that shouldn’t work on planes, like Tess of the D’Urbervilles on a flight to L.A.

      • YUP, absolutely—anything absorbing will do. I read Lanark on a plane once and it was a very hallucinatory experience (what with the jet lag and travel fatigue); almost heightened my appreciation of the book.

  2. ian darling says:

    There must be so many fictional cats. Behemoth sounds wonderful. I must try Soseki’s I am a Cat, on my shelves/in a pile somewhere, which is supposed to be splendidly satirical about early 20th century Japanese life.

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