literary insight

20 05 2004

i read this book yesterday (do the happy fiction dance! and yes, mom, i did my homework first…) about this wedding, in a weird hotel in the midwest during a snowstorm, and the chaos around it, and all the crazy people in the families doing all their crazy things… it was a nice little book. not all uber-romantic and foofy, but not too postmodern for a happy ending, either. (a. manette ansay: midnight champagne) the bride was quirky, not beautiful, her groom sweet but not dashing, they snuck away during the reception for a quickie on the air-hockey table and smiled at each other whenever anyone else wasn’t looking. good stuff. anyway. there were 2 gems i wanted to share.

one’s what the bride’s awkward 13-year-old brother learns via :

She’d ask, not teasing in the least, if Lacey was his girlfriend, and he’d say he didn’t know, he wasn’t sure. Then the woman would confirm what Stanley was beginning to suspect: that nobody was ever really sure where love was concerned. She’d say there was always something more to learn, and that’s why people fell in and out of love, sometimes with different people, sometimes with the same people over and over again. And each time it happened, it was like entering another country. Things you thought you understood didn’t make sense anymore. Sometimes it was wonderful, and sometimes it was terrible, but either way, you never could go back to what you’d been. Like dying? Stanley would say, and she’d say, A little. Another kind of letting go.

the other’s the toast the bride’s aunt gives at the end, which of course nobody would think of so well off the cuff in a real wedding, but it’s fiction, so the author’s had years to make :

“Oscar Wilde said,” she began, “that men marry because they are tired, and women because they are curious, and that both are disappointed.” Primed, the crowd laughed agreeably. “He was right about the disappointment. You will be disappointed.” She was speaking directly to April and Caleb now. “Not just in each other, but in yourselves. It’s inevitable that you’ll fall short of your own expectations.” Nobody moved. Once again there was the sound of tires spinning, a vehicle rocking forward and back. “But you will also exceed those expectations, again and again, and in ways you can’t possibly imagine. And my wish for you both is that there will come a time when you’ll look back on this day and realize that–in spite of the disappointments–even the best of your old expectations seem pale in the face of the actual life you have lived together.” She paused, then raised her glass. “To your happiness,” she said.

so there’s me, 4 days from my 1st anniversary, thinking about the most important things in the way that’s always made the most sense to me: through other peoples’ experiences, through make-believe, through story, which is the deepest truth at all.

and on that note, it’s time to make the coffee and go to class and talk about political theory!

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