Sunday, September 07, 2008

This is love too

There's something joyous about Adverbs, by Daniel Handler. It's not the what; it's the how. It's executed playfully and brashly, if sometimes wistfully.

I'm not sure what qualifies it as a novel, why it proclaims itself to be one. It reads like a series of interconnected short stories, with some characters recurring and some incidents in common.

But it's all about love.

Each of the stories takes for its title an adverb — briefly, symbolically, particularly — the manner of love explored within it.

I am trying to figure out the difference between this book and the other collection of short stories I recently read. The stories in One More Year (Sana Krasikov) were also about love, various kinds, but all imbued with loneliness and desperation. Adverbs, on the other hand, while it doesn't shy away from the odd or hopeless, glories in all love's messiness. These 2 books — only the words are different.

Am I in a better mood this week? I have been busier and am more tired. Does this make me more or less in the world? Does that put me more fully, better, into the experience of reading? The joy — does it come from me or the book?

Here's a question Handler poses that I'm stuck on: When do you know when something is becoming something that changes you? That would be pretty much everything, all the time, if you're open to it.

When do you learn that the world, like any diner worth its salt, is open twenty-four hours a day?

Because it is, you know. I learned this some time ago, but it's important to be reminded.

(Summer was open 24 hours a day, and it changed me!)

I've been reading this book mostly in the metro, a diversion from the general misery of the commute(rs).

They abandon the clearing for the rest of the story to walk together. This is how it is in life and love. In life and love we are with people for a while, and then we join other people, people we have not met, and we walk with them, and we leave behind all the things where we used to be. Sometimes we leave people behind too. Sometimes we walk away from the forest and abandon a person there and never see them again. This happens every day. Every day this happens and scarcely anybody cares.


Handler tells us on virtually every page what love is, how this is part of it, and this too, and this thing also is a kind of love, and he's right, really, everything — all of it — is love.

It's weird and sad, but this is life. Grab it by the balls. Be in it. Love!

Stupidly. Fiercely. Better.
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