Monday, February 13, 2012
Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Day 19
Well we are nearing the end, but have no fear (of commitment), my last two choices are pretty great. In fact my last two books are by writers I don’t talk about nearly enough; they are both brilliant, and much to Liz’s liking…one is a Canadian (Liz likes geography like she enjoys her men…cold and distant).
Elizabeth McCracken has several excellent books under her belt: a story collection entitled Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry, a truly inspired novel called Niagara Falls All Over Again, a heartbreaking memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. Finally she is the author of a book that makes my top, oh, I don’t know… twenty?: The Giant’s House: A Romance.
In short (no pun intended…seriously it's not intended), set in the early 1950’s, Peggy falls in love with James. Here are a couple of details. Peggy is twenty-five when she meets eleven-year-old James. James has a very rare endocrine disorder, which causes him to grow at an alarming and dangerous rate; his lifespan will be drastically cut short. Peggy is a lonely librarian (before attending the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, I am almost certain McCracken was a librarian) who has been disappointed by life, and certainly, love. James and Peggy, each in their own way, are social outcasts. They each have a curiosity beyond that of their small, unchanging town. In their ten year platonic relationship, Peggy raises funds to build James a proper house, proper furniture, and even has a car built to suit his needs (he reaches 8 ft tall and is over 400 pounds). She adores his strange but loving family and finally feels at home. A bit of a twist from here so I won’t spoil the read, but please give The Giant’s House a chance; it's one of the most original, moving, thoughtful books I have read. [And secretly Gianna LOVES tall people.]
I think if Gianna can select a short story ("Brokeback Mountain"), so can I. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is required reading. Period. A husband loves his wife so much that he takes her to the country to undergo a rest cure about she struggles with depression. He's so loving, see? His beloved has the run of an upstairs room in a country house, a room with the ugliest fucking wallpaper ever conceived. It's not his fault, of course. He didn't design the house interiors. And besides, the doctor thinks this rest cure is restorative.
Anyway, our heroine spends days in her room and subtly she begins to see patterns in the wallpaper. And then she sees the figures in the paper creeping. And then she herself is creeping. She's crazy with love! (Or she's just crazy, driven insane by the well-intentioned men in her life who don't listen to her.)
Guess what! I'm still single!