Monday, September 06, 2004

Good in Bed

I just finished reading a phenomenal book called GOOD IN BED by Jennifer Weiner. I started it Saturday night and spent all Sunday morning in my robe, tucked under my down comforter (because it’s a little chilly on this part of the island), finishing the book. I cried through the entire last third of the book. (A fact that my little brother will snort and shake his head at.) In the book, the main character is being complimented for her screenplay. She is told:

“I loved that your lead character has such faith in herself. So many romantic comedies, it seems, the female lead has to be rescued somehow . . . by love, or by money, or a fairy godmother. I loved that Josie just rescued herself, and believed in herself the whole time.”

I loved that the author had the audacity to write about her own writing within her story. (I think I remember that as reflexivism from my Postmodernism class.) My generation and possibly the rest of the modern world is told to “Be yourself” but we are still taught not to talk about it, really. Some element of Puritanism or Victorianism tells us that it is impolite to crow about our own achievements, especially if they are internal. But, this woman tells us in dialogue what we should love about the book because it is what she loves about herself.

I got through this last year and a half by believing in myself. I’ve had tons of help but in the end, I couldn’t have done this without believing in myself and in the fact that my choices were good because they were based in a worthwhile existence. And it is not done yet and while I am still knocked down by how hard it is, I get admiration from people (who are knowledgeable enough that I respect their opinions) because I don’t pretend like I didn’t get knocked down and I don’t pretend like it isn’t hard to get up but I pull myself up anyway . . . eventually.

The book is truth. The author oh-so-accurately depicts that the ending of a romance, especially a romance that you were pretty sure was going to last forever, sucks long past the first couple of months. It sucks well into the next stage of your life in lots of unexpected ways that you hate to foist upon anyone else but you find you have to because your only other option is to disappear into some oubliette of a status quo, solitary life. Leo McGarry in THE WEST WING described his divorce, “Because we loved each other and it was awful.” I thought that was the best way to say it then, and this author captures Leo’s words with the confrontations that happen in Cannie’s head and the silence that actually triumphs in the actual situations. She says that living without him sometimes feels like living without oxygen, which is the perfect metaphor because she is still living.

The book is a coming-of-age novel in a new world where studies are beginning to show that most Americans believe that we aren’t really grown-up until our late twenties or early thirties. Just like Huckleberry Finn and Scout discover that there is true evil in the world that has no solution except individual action, Cannie discovers the hurt that we cause each other simply because we are human beings and fallible and that the solution is to learn to love ourselves and to keep loving others as best we can.

In addition to all of that smushy feel-good sentiment, this book made me laugh out loud at Cannie’s sarcasm and tiny little dog. Read it if you’re looking for something to read chapter by chapter in this new school year. It doesn’t have and doesn’t need all sorts of “literary” levels and symbols to tell my story and the stories of lots of women I know. Thanks to Susan Simosky and Heather Yerrick for their recommendations that I read this. Jeff says that the Exchange is a magical place because the solution to most questions or problems are usually found because you trip over them or they fall on you. God put this book in my hands through the Exchange as my catharsis to move me out of my transitional funk and get started on another experience.

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