6 Degrees of Separation – From Jackson to Wagamese

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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, then 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 The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. This is classic short story, which appeared in the New Yorker in 1948. It is even considered horror. 

There were several possible paths to follow, but I decided to focus on the lottery aspect.

 1st Degree: Another classic short story, The Lottery Ticket, is by Anton Chekhov, the Russsian author and playwright and written in 1887.

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“When Ivan Dmitritch’s wife, Masha, invests her money in the lottery, he can help but feel it is a foolish waste of timing. However, having read through the rest of the paper, he agrees to check the numbers for his wife at her request. To his astonishment, the series number of Masha’s lottery ticket matches the winning series number. Without checking the rest of the number needed to win, both husband and wife quickly begin to fantasize about what they would do if they won the lottery. Their happy thoughts quickly turn to anger and hostility towards one another as they become greedy over the money. It is only then that Ivan consents to checking the final number to see whether or not their musings would come true. “

2nd Degree: From ticket to winner is Mary Higgins Clark’s The Lottery Winner, a series of stories about Alvirah Meehan and her husband who have won a huge lottery.

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“Alvirah Meehan, the former cleaning lady from Flushing, New York, who struck it rich in the lottery, made her first appearance in Mary Higgins Clark’s Weep No More, My Lady. After she narrowly survived a stalking killer in that best-selling novel, grateful fans clamored for her return. Mary Higgins Clark obliged with several splendid short stories starring the ever-resourceful Alvirah and her occasionally befuddled but always dependable mate, Willy.”

3rd Degree: A novel about a lottery winner whose life changes with her win is Anita Burgh’s book “Lottery”.

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“Can money solve one’s problems? Does money lead to happiness?
Peggy Alder, middle-aged, middle-class and struggling to make ends meet, is certain that if only the bills were paid her life would be perfect. Is she right? She soon finds out when a windfall transforms her life for ever. Everything changes as she struggles to come to terms with the realisation that nothing can ever be the same again.”

4th Degree: This led me to another novel about a woman who wins a lottery and whose life changes – Lotto Lucy by Kathlen Irene Patreka

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“Winning the lottery: $70 million.  Mending family relationships: Priceless.  
When James Bay journalist Lucy Carter wins the lottery, good fortune seems guaranteed. But even $70 million in cold hard cash can’t help Lucy when it comes to dealing with some cold hard facts. No amount of money will buy back Grandma’s mind nor buy Lucy a reprieve from a strained mother/daughter relationship.”

5th Degree: This led to a novel by Christopher Klim, The Winners Circle, about a man whose winnings bring out the con artists and complications.

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“Striking it rich is as much a part of American folklore as it is the American dream. For unemployed autoworker Jerry Nearing, it’s the answer to his prayers, but when he wins millions in the lottery, his troubles have only begun. His life swarms with con artists who kidnap his time and money and just might keep him from recapturing the love of his life.

6th Degree: I had to include this novel by Richard Wagamese, Ragged Company, as we just held the first Truth and Reconciliation Day in Canada, and not only is it about a lottery win but it is one of my favourite books by Wagamese. Once again, it shows just how lives are changed when large amounts of money are won.

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“Four chronically homeless people–Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger–seek refuge in a warm movie theatre when a severe Arctic Front descends on the city.
A found cigarette package (contents: some unsmoked cigarettes, three $20 bills, and a lottery ticket) changes the fortune of this struggling set. The ragged company discovers they have won $13.5 million, but none of them can claim the money for lack proper identification. Enlisting the help of Granite, their lives, and fortunes, become forever changed.”


I began with The Lottery and ended with Ragged Company– two books about how lotteries change lives.

Next month (November 6, 2021), we’ll start with Sigrid Nunez’s What Are You Going Through.

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