Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Running in place

Book: I Want to Show You More
Author: Jamie Quatro
Published: 2013 (Grove Press)
Pages: 204

This has been on my holds list for a bajillion years and I got excited when it was finally my turn because CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORIES YAY. And when I got to the one about how people have to run marathons with these weird symbolic statues tied to their backs, I was all, CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORIES WITH THE OCCASIONAL TOUCH OF MAGICAL REALISM ABSURDITY, IT'S A PARTY NOW!

But then... the rest kind of fell flat.

Most of these stories center on extra marital affairs as slow burns of aching yearning that are withering or being strangled at one end or the other, and as much as I can feel the agony between the forced whimsy of the exchanges...guys, I'm tired.

I'm tired of all popular culture telling us that romantic passion conquers all. I'm distinguishing that from love, okay, because true love is a weedy wildflower, this tough, kind of prickly thing that holds together through a combination of rather helpless stubbornness and hard work, and still manages to push out unexpected beauty through the concrete, and it might be in the way but its root system turns out to be what's been holding the sidewalk together for so long.

Romantic passion is awesome and fun but I'm goddam sick of pretending it's the only thing that matters.

And the thing with this book is that I get glimpses of other parts of life like the author understands that, like the running story - I love that one. It's an amazingly absurdist tale about taking on unnecessary sacrifices to feel like you've accomplished anything, and the ending shows you in a very literal way how people won't let that work, and it's great.

 But the other stories get repetitive and a little self-defeating fairly quickly. I was hoping for far more whimsy.

Back to the library, where my holds list has been cleared until I finish the library cart shelf pile (ONE MORE BOOK, y'all!).

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