Six Degrees of Separation – Redhead By the Side of the Road to The Disconnected Man

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This is the first Saturday of the month which means that it is time for Six Degrees of Separation, the book challenge, hosted by Kate  from  “Books are My Favourite and Best” .

This is such a fascinating challenge and one I am always eager to begin and follow the search for connected books. The fun is in the search for connections and each chain that is created is always so different.

The starting point for us this round is to begin with Anne Tyler’s latest novel, Redhead by the Side of the Road, written when she was in her late seventies. I read this book this week and was quickly drawn into the life of quirky Micah. He reminded me of so many other quirky male characters. So, as a departure from the usual, my chain is a cascade of quirky characters (comments from Goodreads):

1st Degree: Micah reminded me of Don Tillman, from Graeme Simison’s quirky novel The Rosie Project. He too, had difficulty with relationships.

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this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.”

2nd Degree: This led me to A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, a character who is so much more obnoxious than Micah.

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A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.  
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell”

3rd Degree:  This then led me to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, a moving story about a man who gets a second chance.

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As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.  A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen.”

4th Degree: This led me to another of these quirky men, Harold in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Another character I came to enjoy.

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“Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl”

5th Degree: This then led to The Curious Charms of  Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick. This one as well, is about a man who lost his wife and his world changes in an instant when he finds something.

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Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.  
But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey

6th Degree: Looking at all these men made me wish they could all have read Jim Turner’s book The Disconnected Man. They all might have learned how to have had realistic relationships and learned to connect with others much better than they had, without going through all the pain they did.

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“The Disconnected Man tracks the journey of one man’s surprise discovery of his own disconnectedness and his desire to help other men, and the women who love them, before it is too late.”

I began with Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road and highlighted 5 quirky men and ended with a book they all could have used.

Next month (on March 6), we will begin our journey with a book which might make the Stella Prize 2021 longlist – Phosphorescence by Julia Baird.

Come take part in a fun, intriguing challenge!

14 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation – Redhead By the Side of the Road to The Disconnected Man

  1. Nice chain — not my kind of reading, but some of the descriptions sounded interesting, especially The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I keep seeing Man Called Ove as well.

  2. Really like how you’ve remembered Ove, Fikry and Rosie Project. I see those chains of people with social awkwardness or trying to build new relationships (with a little difficulty at first). Some great books in here!

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