Her name is Kate Chrsitensen and her writing is. Just. So. Good. I was in deep need of a book that wasn’t anxiety-inducing, scary, deeply upsetting, about business or annoying. Her book, The Great Man, landed in my lap (thanks, Orly)…and now I want to devour everything she’s written.
I have five bullets for you:
- Excellent prose: luscious and so smart.
- Hilarious. In that witty, kicks you in the ass kind of way.
- Drenched in NYC-ness.
- Picks people and all of their ooey, gooeyness apart—as if with steel-tipped toothpicks.
- Strong female protagonists. (One that I love, two that I tolerate.)
But it was page 67 that got me. Reached out, grabbed my eyeballs and poured in this gem. Ready? (and I promise this won’t spoil anything…):
My mother was the lover and my father the beloved. From watching them, I drew the conclusion that it’s best to be the lover, the one who adores and pursues. Love is tangentially about power, and the beloved has less power than the lover, all appearances to the contrary…One person is the adorer and cherisher and the other is the adored and cherished. Whenever Mom (the lover) distanced herself from Dad (the beloved), which was rarely, believe me, he sort of fell apart.
Oh, how I love the word ‘tangentially’.
Now, I don’t know about you…but I had this reversed in my befuddled brain. I thought when you were the lover, you had less power because you wanted more than you could have. You were tortured, without, in need.
After I read that paragraph fifty-three times…I realized not only was Christensen’s (character’s) sentiment spot on, but that I already knew it to be true. I know both sides. When you are the lover—even though the pain and torment threaten to consume—you do have the power to stop at any moment…and walk away. That’s actually true.
But, sitting on the other side of the table—as the beloved—all of that love could disappear at any moment. And you have no control over it whatsoever. So there you are, beloved by this other person, wondering (in the back of your mind somewhere) when and if this magical spell you have over your lover will evaporate—as mythically as it appeared.
And if it does, it could send you into the tailspin of suddenly being the pursuer or it could just leave you all alone. But, in the meantime, it always hangs over you, like a spider on your bedroom ceiling, watching you, scurrying around, occasionally disappearing, then showing up again, soundless…ever threatening to fall.
Just look at the words themselves. Beloved is a noun, passive, sitting, lame duck. Lover is active, moving, doing, momentum.
How wrong I’d had it. And how much power I’d given up as the lover. Such a waste. A brutal waste.
And then I started thinking about other instances where I’ve assumed a lack of power—where maybe there was some. Or lots.
- Employee v. Boss
- Writer v. Publisher
- Child v. Parent
- Patient v. Doctor
- Mind v. Heart
- Dream v. Reality
- What else???
Oh. How I love good books. Written by fabulously smart women.
Image credit: Esparta