Six Degrees of Separation: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly meme hosted by Annabel and Emma. You start with one book and then make six connections in anyway you see fit (for official rules, see below).

This month we’re starting with The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.


I have not read this Booker prize winning novel, and honestly, I don’t intend to anytime soon. However, Catton is a graduate of the Iowa’s Writers Workshop, which has produced many authors I’ve loved (including…), but perhaps my favorite is Maggie Shipstead. Her brilliant, witty Seating Arrangements was one of my favorite books of 2012. It tells the tale of an east coast island wedding gone awry.

Another novel that tells the tale of an east coast wedding in near perfect prose is That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. He is one of my favorite contemporary authors and I always trust his recommendations, so when he blurbed the upcoming The Spark and The Drive, I knew I’d be reading it. The author was kind enough to contact me and send me a copy. I have not been disappointed thus far. Set against the backdrop of an auto garage, driving and cars play an important role within the novel.

Another novel that features driving in a pivotal role is Drive by James Sallis, which tells the story of what should be a simple drive going very, very wrong.

Another book that features a road trip from hell is (the book I manage to mention every chance I get) Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time. In terms of structure and plot, it’s one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read.

For me, it’s reminiscent of the structure in John Gardner’s forgotten classic Nickel Mountain – an uncommon, unexpected love story. The novel features on “the gradual revelation of the bond that develops as this unlikely couple experiences courtship and marriage, the birth of a son, isolation, forgiveness, work, and death in a small Catskill community in the 1950s”.

Six Degrees Luminaries

So there you have it, from nineteenth century New Zealand to the impoverished Catskills in six easy steps.

If you’re interested in joining. Please follow the rules below:
#6Degrees Rules

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  • maria helena

    Great and interesting chain, as usual. I really want to read The Devil All the Time now.

    • Rory

      It’s a MUST read. It completely blew me away.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading

    The fact that there are only three degrees of separation between Seating Arrangements and The Devil All the Time is pretty incredible. Bravo!

    • Rory

      Thank you, I will take a bow.

  • Katie @ Words For Worms

    Why haven’t I read The Devil All The Time? Is it a nightmare book, or something I could stomach? (Fabulous chain, BTW)

    • Rory

      It’s not a nightmare book, it’s not even particularly scary – more just…dark fiction.

  • Marisa @ The Daily Dosage

    Wow! Impressive. And now I also want to read all of these books. Well done.

    • Rory

      They are all very good, I promise. 🙂

  • Annabel Smith

    I didn’t know Catton was a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop. People always talk about how IWW graduates all have the same style or voice and I think Catton’s work belies this, as it’s nothing like the work of say, Shipstead, or Ann Patchett. That Old Cape Magic sounds great and I’ve been meaning to read a Russo, on your recommendation, so that might be the one. Nickel Mountain also appeals. Thanks for joining in.

    • Rory

      I love, love, love Richard Russo. He’s one of my favorite contemporary writers.

      I think you’d like Nickel Mountain, it’s an intense, different sort of book.

  • tanya (52 books or bust)

    I love that you did this even though you haven’t read The Luminaries. I never thought of approaching it that way.

    • Rory

      I love this meme, but that is not a book I intend to read, so I thought I would twist it around somehow.

  • April @ The Steadfast Reader

    I know we’ve already discussed our mutual love for Devil All the Time. But I’m considering a re-read. I was totally blown away by it when I read it – but I need a refresher. 🙂

    • Rory

      I do too! It is the one book I truly push on people.

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