Friday, January 27, 2012

Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Day 2


[Gianna is so filled with love that she picked two books today.  Me?  I'm so full of gas that I decided to pass on the refried beans for dinner.]

Mary and O’Neil

Just as one would suspect of Justin Cronin, bestselling author of post-apocalyptic novel The Passage, he once wrote a love story. In fact, it’s a really wonderful love story with exactly zero vampires (although the body count is moderate).

Mary and O’Neil is a thoughtful book about finding love and solace when you least expect it. At times these interlinked stories can be heartbreaking, at other times sweet and funny. You come to realize pretty quickly that Mary and O’Neil are people you probably know, each nursing private hurt and tragedy. O’Neil has never really gotten over the sudden death of his parents and Mary has yet to completely heal from a pregnancy she chose to end years before. These two teachers meet while working at the same school when they are in their mid-thirties, never thinking that they had yet to find the love of their lives. Cronin flawlessly weaves these stories together, slowly revealing each of their past lives. 

Vaclav & Lena
I have written about this excellent book a couple of times; it made my Top 10 of 2011 where I believe I described it as a perfect love story. I am sticking by that statement. Non-asinine love stories are really hard to find, and this truly heartwarming story of two immigrant Russian children will be hard to top AND it's available in paperback Feb 7th. 

Both Mary and O’Neil and Vaclav & Lena are couples you won’t soon forget. They will make you believe in love again. Or make you believe that a romantic book doesn’t have to be silly.


Many authors are plumbing the horrors of suburbia in their fiction.  Jonathan Franzen was featured on the cover of Time for his efforts on the subject.  One of the best books on the subject, and one of the best reads of the 20th Century, is Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road.  You know what's romantic?  Reading this book (or watching the intense and unsettling movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio) while pregnant.  No, I'm not and never have been pregnant, but I've heard it can mess with an expectant parent's head.  I'm all in favor.

Revolutionary Road is the story of a couple in love, a couple with dreams of returning to Europe, of writing, of living Bohemian lives in the manner of the Lost Generation.  And then Frank, the husband, discovers that he's not as apathetic about his office job as he thought.  He and April, his wife, buy their house in the suburbs on Revolutionary Road and betray their dreams and each other.  This novel is a masterpiece--if you like Mad Men I absolutely guarantee you'll like this book--and it's a chilling unraveling of a fairy tale relationship after April discovers she's pregnant.  

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