Thursday, February 2, 2012

Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Day 8


The Lover

Marguerite Duras
I’ve noticed that many of our “romantic” books are actually very sad or even devastating books. I would like to continue that trend with today’s choice of The Lover by Marguerite Duras.

This is a “fictional memoir;" I don’t know if the reason it's “fiction” is a legal issue or if Marguerite had some memory lapses when recalling her youth. Doesn’t matter--it’s a beautiful book. The writing is absolutely stunning, told not in chronological order but almost in a dream state. The book is just over 100 pages; you’ll read it in one sitting.

Indochina, the last months of France’s colonial empire, Duras recalls her life growing up in Saigon, poor, living in an abusive home. She discovers the power of desire, or more appropriately, of being desired, at an early age. She writes of her passionate and volatile affair with a wealthy Chinese man in his mid-twenties while she was just fifteen. She is detached and even cruel throughout the affair. He is kind, helps provide for her family (although it is clear to him that she does not love him), and falls in love. It isn’t until years later that Duras realizes her feeling for this man (who goes unnamed in this book, by the way), and that is where the book actually begins. It's not as scandalous as it sounds...well, it is somewhat scandalous but it's an incredibly well-written love story.


Okay, fine.  I admit it.  I'm single, I'm cantankerous, and I pretty much hate happy people.  I think babies are, as a rule, ugly.  All those convicts that Gianna tries to recruit for the Date a Liz Before Death Row campaign are probably smart in turning down such an opportunity.  No one wants to rub my feet.
I'm going to pretend that I'm like you people and actually pick a love book that is neither creepy nor involving acts that are felonies in most states.  Every now and then I catch a virus and sniff a whiff of compassion for all of you people, and that must have been what happened when I read One Day by David Nicholls.  One Day is charming--the love story of Dex and Emma following 20 years of their lives, one chapter for each year on July 15th.  They are friends, estranged acquaintances, pals in relationships with others, and then soul mates.  One Day is moving, funny, and full of compassion.  This book tells a wonderful love story, but one that still resonates with people who are normally too cool to read love stories (looking at you, Nick Hornby hipster kids).  For a brief moment my heart grew three sizes....and then I went back and reread Hitler's Willing Executioners.  I'm back to hating people again.  And I'm still single.

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