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For my second #6Degrees chain, the starter book is William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy if ever there was one. (As an aside, my preferred Shakespeare play is Macbeth, but I do love the Baz Luhrmann R+J version. The Leo factor, to be sure, and Claire Danes with wings.)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, in addition to being yet another book I haven’t finished, is a dystopian novel featuring a band of Shakespearian actors who travel around, putting on performances. In fact, from memory, the opening scene is a dramatic performance of King Lear where the main actor suffers a heart attack during the production.

Watershed by Jane Abbott is another dystopian story, a new release in Australia, and – disclaimer – Jane is a friend who got a two-book deal with Random House, and they also picked up her YA manuscript which is being published also this year… Talk about wow. (AND Jane’s sister won the inaugural Richell Prize. What a family.) Anyway, I am reading Jane’s Watershed now (took a bit of a break to read another book) and the reason I took a detour is because it’s dystopian, it’s dark and really really violent. The action takes place in an unnamed world where water is scarce and has become the currency of trade and earnings.

From a dark post-apocalypse to one of Australia’s best-loved children’s books, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie is also concerned with water in one of it’s longer sections. Little Ragged Blossom is taken captive by the evil John Dory (am I getting this right or wrong) and kept in his underwater den. I remember Little Obelia, asleep on a beautiful unfurled flower, and then finally Blossom being tossed up onto a rock. Maybe I need to revisit.

Another type of fish – Barracuda – is the name of Christos Tsiolkas’s last novel, a book about champion swimmer and special needs worker Danny – arsehole and redeemed good guy – who we follow from his early beginnings as an athlete with potential, to his time at prestigious school and beyond.

Australian novelist and short story writer Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest also features a character who is a personal care worker – or nurse – a woman who turns up in a taxi, seemingly uninvited, to look after an elderly woman who lives beside the sea. (Interestingly, the book I read while taking a breather from Watershed is the terrific Leap by Myfanwy Jones, and she also has a tiger motif as well as a nurse. But that would have been too easy a linking.) I confess I didn’t finish The Night Guest so that is on my list to re-visit as well. Maybe I need a year of ‘Finishing the Books I Started’…

Apparently for the next 6 Degrees, the starter book is Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, so I’ll look forward to that and seeing where it takes me.