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A very different type of love story
on 29 July 2009
I've never experienced this writer before, but I am aware of the Lemony Snickets series of books, and have to admit that the back cover blurb and the very unusual 'soundbite' from Dave Eggers (namely "Anyone who lives to read gorgeous writing will want to lick this book and sleep with it between their legs") did crack a smile, so I gave it a chance.
There is no question, this IS a gorgeously written book, filled with stories on the subject of love in its every form. The prose is poetic and the stories are intricately positioned to reflect characters & locations which frequently transpose from one story to the other.
Some of the stories are definitely tragic (the one about the two lifelong friends sharing one final night out before one of them is destined to lose her life due to a rare & terminal disease was suitably moving without being tawdry). Others are very comical (A tale about an average man who everyone loves once they meet him, also made me smile, yet did not feel uncomfortable in the fact that two of the man's admirers were a local postman & his son). What surprised me is that each tale is well-balanced. Tragic tales are countered with a dollop of humour, while comic tales have an element of loss & pain.
This is not a love story, or even a number of short love stories in the traditional sense. It is not merely about boy meets girl, but genuinely explores the subject of love in every form imagineable. Wherever love can be found, whether in a taxi, or by the swimming pool, irrespective of the form of love...lust, devotion, loyalty, worship or family ties, Handler does well to explore each way that we all love, and are loved.
Now, don't get me wrong. While this is a fine literary read, I've yet to cover this book with saliva or place it between my thighs before lights out. for three reasons.
Firstly, it's just falling short of something. Maybe it's the fact that because the characters seem to appear in different stories, either as older/younger versions of themselves, or completely different altogether. Names are juggled around, and just when you think you know a character, they turn out to be not the person you were thinking of. It's all a bit like Handler watched a few too many David Lynch films. As a result, you never really get to know the characters as well as you'd like.
Secondly, there seems to be a complete story arc running in the background, but things are only briefly mentioned. I'm wondering if the author would have been better off biting the bullet and just going for an all encompassing story.
Thirdly, my copy is a library book, and I think the librarians would have a thing to say about a book I've violated with my bodily fluids. ;-)