Thursday, May 6, 2010

Love Stories, and the Hedonists Who Write Them

I was rereading my previous post in order to check for grammar mistakes, and I got to the part where I was complaining about how Pride and Prejudice totally bores me and then offered possible replacements for The Moste Epic Love Story of All Time, when I realized that neither Persuasion or The Hero and the Crown really does it for me.
I really like Persuasion. It's very realistic. I think it's the best Jane Austen novel because the author manages to keep her nose out of her characters' business. But it's not something I ever want to have happen to me. I can't construct a daydream around the plotline of Persuasion.
Same with The Hero and the Crown. I do really like that one, also, and I adore the male lead, Tor, but the love story in The Hero and the Crown suffers from the same lack of attention as the love stories in most adventure novels; it is secondary to the hero or heroine's task, and so, again, it is not something I can construct a fantasy around.
"Okay," I thought, "So it's not Persuasion or The Hero and the Crown. What is it?" I stared at that stupid webpage for ten minutes and couldn't think of any.
I don't have a favorite love story.
I have hundreds of books in my apartment. I have re-read almost all of them multiple times. I read three or four books a week. I taught myself to read when I was three years old using books on tape. Stories are in my blood. I love stories possibly more than I love my family (no offense. It's really a coin-toss situation). The only thing I really want to do with the rest of my life is write stories so other people can love them, too. How is it that I cannot think of one single story that epitomizes how I feel about romantic relationships?
Twilight was good. It was a fairly impressive story. But I wouldn't want to spend the rest of eternity liplocked with either Jacob or Edward. (I'm totally on team Jacob, since he actually has a sense of humor, but still. Not really doin it for me.) Nor would being a vampire be all that awesome. Or living in Forks, Washington. I'm from Buffalo; I've had enough precipitation.
I can think of characters I'm kind of in love with. Marcus Didius Falco, from Lindsey Davis's series about an informer in ancient Rome. He's pretty devastatingly loveable. Gregory House. Also right up my alley, blue eyes and all. But they are heroes in mystery stories, and women are secondary plotlines. I would like to be the plotline, in my epic love story. I would like to be the mystery.
The only love scene that repeatedly makes me grin stupidly is the one from Sense and Sensibility--the movie--where Edward (man, there's lots of Edwards in this romantic business, huh?), who has, throughout all the heartrending events of 18th-century-rich-people-land("Ohmigod! We have to move to a cottage! And we can only take two servants!"), stuck by the woman he had been secretly engaged to for four years, shows up to visit Elinor and tells her that his fiancee has rather conveniently fallen in love with his brother. He says, "I met Lucy when I was very young," and proceeds to declare his undying love for Elinor, who promptly hyperventilates after her year-and-a-half of holding it all inside and telling no one.
I like that scene.
It's not really like that in the book. Sense and Sensibility bores me, especially because Jane Austen is a master of telling and not showing, and skips over all the good stuff, like dialogue, or action, when getting into people's personal lives. Also because in the book Elinor is pretty sure that Edward does love her, but in the movie she has no idea; and finally because in the movie Edward's fiancee is kind of sweet and clueless, and in the book she's a conniving b*tch, but I think it's way more interesting if the other woman is also worth marrying, and the man picks the heroine instead anyway.
I can't think of another story quite like that one.
Maybe The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It's still not the main plotline, but it's a major one: the perfectly responsible but also frustrating and energetic Nat keeps showing up at all the right times, and when Kit realizes she's in love with him it's the middle of winter and she has to wait all spring before he sails back up the East Coast from Barbados. She starts going to the docks every day to see if he's there and when he finally shows up she hikes up her skirts and sprints down the dock before he even sees her.
I guess what I like are love stories with delayed reaction times. I like stories where someone has to sit on their passion for a year or so before they can do anything about it; not just before they realize it but before they find themselves in the circumstantial/social/geographic position to say anything at all. That's why the heroic tales are running a close second; I don't like the secondary importance of the love story, but I do like that circumstances keep them from even addressing the issue for pretty much the whole book. Why is that? Why is that interesting to me? Is that interesting to anyone else?
And don't try to tell me When Harry Met Sally counts under this category, because it doesn't. First of all, Billy Crystal is so not attractive, and secondly, it's not like they were both in love with each other and just had to wait to say so. It took them like seven years to even figure it out. Boring. Stupid people aren't sexy.
I think the Delayed Reaction Time Love Story is a very rare plotline, as well, so maybe that has something to do with what I like about it. I mean, of all the books I've ever read, I can only come up with two examples of this plotline, and one of them is kind of weak. Are there any books with plotlines like that that I'm totally missing? Turn me on to them, fast!

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