Monday, July 4, 2016

The Book of Love

Book 13 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from January 20 - 25

The Book of Love: Improvisations on a Crazy Little Thing
by Roger Rosenblatt

Summary (via the book jacket)
In The Book of Love, Roger Rosenblatt looks at love in all its themes and variations - romantic love, courtship, marriage, battle, heartbreak, fury, confusion, melancholy, beauty, delirium, ecstasy; love of lovers, family, friends, of country, of work, writing, solitude, of art; love of nature; love of life itself.
Using lines from love songs to create a kind of verbal jazz riff, as infectious as it is engaging, Rosenblatt intersperses thoughts about love with fictional vignettes that capture a variety of lovers in different situations with notes addressed to "you", his wife of fifty years. "The story I have to tell is of you. Of others, too. Other people, other things. But mainly of you. It begins and ends with you. It always comes back to you." Pieces follow upon one another in a continuous progression, as if composing one long song that flows through the entire mystery and magic of what it means to love and be in love. What is this thing called love? Lively yet profound, poignant yet joyous, The Book of Love is a triumph of intellect and imagination.

My Opinion
It was streaky. Some parts excellent, some not as much.  There are breaks in the page but no official "chapters", making it easy to binge read if it grabs you.  But there was a lot of theme repetition (Vermeer, the Chinese inventing the clock, George and Gracie, etc.) so maybe it's meant to be savored slowly so it's not as noticeable.

I liked the little details like the red edging on the pages. 

It was very poetic.  It's the kind of book that I wanted to read aloud even as I was sitting and reading alone.  I added his other books to my list because I loved his writing style.  In the end, the reason this wasn't a 5 star read is because I was into it while I was reading but none of it stuck when I was done.

A Few Quotes from the Book

"The story I have to tell is of you. Of others, too. Other people, other things. But mainly of you. It begins and ends with you. It always comes back to you."

"On gaps? First, a coffee cup is between you. Then a swimming pool. Then an ocean. Then everything. Keep your eye on gaps. They tend to grow when you're not looking, like orchids, except they're not as pretty as orchids."

"Love is irrational, delirium, which is why neither of us would want to be one of those gods graced with eternal life, because if you have eternal life, why panic? Where's the fire? But if you're mortal, and are we ever, carpe diem, carpe whatever frantic impulse comes charging through you heart."

"I do not seek originality in your love any more than in a novel. Why would I choose some wild and crazy fantasy when I could read Alice McDermott? Think of me as your reader. I am happy to do much of the work if you just lay out the stones in the creek, and allow me to leap from one to the other. Music lives between the notes. Writing, between the words. And love in the space you leave me."

"As for those you love and who love you, you have persuaded yourself that they can wait. The remarkable thing is that they will."

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