Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Happy Valentine's Day!


I am embarrassed to say that this was just added to my list a week or so ago at my girlfriend’s urging, and of course I knew it had to be number one. And maybe you think it's cheating because I am once again technically choosing a short story, but rules like laws are meant to be broken...like bigamy, sodomy, and stealing beer from the Pump and Munch (it’s a real place).

"The Bear Went Over
the Mountain" was made into
a terrific movie.
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage consists of nine extraordinary stories. If you haven’t read Alice Munro, this is a great jumping off point; it's one of her finest collections, and she without doubt is one of the best writers working today (and if you ever meet anyone who disagrees with that, unfriend them on Facebook immediately).
Alice Munro
For this blog I am going to focus on "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," the beautiful story which anchors the book.

Grant and Fiona are at a crossroad. Although they have had an imperfect marriage, (Grant has had short meaningless affairs with students and even a yearlong affair with a colleague’s wife) he does love Fiona.

Gianna's sweetie Natasha
When she begins showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, she finally takes complete control of her life and marriage. She insists on moving to a nursing home when the disease robs her of the ability to care for herself. Grant finally agrees although it is clearly not what he wants. As the story moves forward Fiona begins to change in ways that Grant is not expecting, including falling in love with another man.

Where Alice Munro succeeds the most in her stories is in her complete grasp on humanity. She paints sweeping portraits with such gorgeous concise language that you are convinced that she was born to write.

Natasha's sweetie Gianna.....oy.


Now I could have picked a sappy love story or epic lovey dovey saga or poignant tale of tragic love; it is Valentine's Day, after all.  But let's be honest: I ordered pizza tonight and sang "My Furry Valentine" to the cat this morning.  I have to be true to me and my ennui.  I will turn back to my witchy, wordy goddess, my JCO.  She communes with my bleak, soulless interior void.
Zombies are a hot topic these days, just behind vampires in the proliferation of undead books of the last few years.  The Joyce Carol Oates take?  Well, she's dark.  Zombie is about a man's quest for love.  He meets people in bars and invites them home...where he lobotomizes them with an ice pick, turning the victims into zombies.  It's a sick man's way of keeping his lovers from abandoning him (until, of course, the brain trauma knocks them down for good).  Oates based her novella on the Jeffery Dahmer case, her way of trying to understand the mind of a serial killer.

Happy Valentine's Day from Book Land!

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