Sunday, July 04, 2021

Six degrees of separation, FROM Eats shoots and leaves TO …

 doing good in the world; because if, as Tolstoy argued, we are all specks in a vast world-historical drama, including those who think they’re in charge, it follows that everyone’s actions are potentially significant, that the humblest person can influence events as much as any general, emperor of tsar.

Steven Conte, The Tolstoy Estate (#BookReview)

Six degrees of separation, FROM Eats shoots and leaves TO …

Now we come to July, and we Aussies have one month of winter under our belt. Woo hoo! But, enough weather report, onto our Six Degrees of Separation meme. If you don’t know how it works, please check out meme host Kate’s blog – booksaremyfavouriteandbest.

The first rule, as most of you know, is that Kate sets our starting book – and this month it’s a book I’ve read, albeit long before blogging. It’s Lynne Truss’s Eats shoots and leaves, whose subtitle, “The zero tolerance approach to punctuation”, tells you its subject.

As always, I had many thoughts about where to go with this, but I couldn’t resist using Truss’s dedication, which is: “to the memory of the striking Bolshevik printers of St Petersburg who, in 1905, demanded to be paid the same rate for punctuation marks as for letters, and thereby directly precipitated the first Russian Revolution”. This gave me the opportunity to link to my latest review, Steven Conte’s The Tolstoy Estate (my review), sinceone of the main characters, Katerina, was a Bolshevik supporter of the Russian Revolutions. 

Izzeldin Abuelaish, I shall not hate

I love humane people who rise above the enmities that surround them to do the right thing. Conte’s doctor, Paul Bauer, is a fictional one, but a real one is Dr Izzeldin Abulaish who, in his book, I shall not hate (my review) tells of the killing of three of his daughters by Israeli Defence Force shells in January 2009 during a 23-day attack on Gaza, and his decision to not hate but to work for harmony in Palestine and Israel. 

Sara Dowse, As the lonely bly

A novel which explores the twentieth century history of Israel and Palestine, looking at the early idealism and the later failures, and arguing for empathy and humanity, is Sara Dowse’s As the lonely fly (my review). 

Sara Dowse Schemetime

Now I’m going to do something I rarely do in this meme, which is to link to another book by the same author, to a book that will move us away from politics to the arts. The book is Sara Dowse’s Schemetime (my review). It’s about an Australian filmmaker who goes to LA wanting to make a career in the film industry.

Book cover

The natural link for this is Dominic Smith’s recent historical fiction, The electric hotel (my review). It is about the early decades of the film industry, when entrepreneurs were developing cinematograph technology and touting it around the world.

Cover for Amor Towles A gentleman in Moscow

The main character in Smith’s book is silent film pioneer Claude Ballard, and when the novel opens he is an old man who as been living in LA’s Knickerbocker Hotel for over thirty years. Remind you of anything? It reminded me of Amor Towles A gentleman in Moscow (my review), which is about “pre-revolutionary” Count Rostov who lives (is, technically imprisoned) for decades in Moscow’s grand hotel, Metropol. 

This doesn’t link naturally back to Lynne Truss, but it does to my first link The Tolstoy Estate! Yasnaya Polyana is not a grand hotel, but it is a real place used as a setting for a novel, and Bolshevik Katerina was originally an aristocrat like our count.

So, besides that little bit of circularity, where have we been? All over the place – Russia, Israel and Palestine, America, all over the world, and back to Russia. And, reversing my usual pattern, four of my selections are by men, and two by women (the same woman, actually.) 

Now, the usual: Have you read Eats shoots and leaves? And, regardless, what would you link to?