Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Love Letter, by Cathleen Schine

Oh, since it's Valentines Day, I simply must mention this book, which was made into a film that came out in 1999, and starred Kate Capshaw, Blythe Danner, and Ellen DeGeneras.

Helen MacFarquar is a 42-year-old, divorced single mother who runs a bookstore. She has this happy, settled life until she comes across a mysterious love letter, which (being a little self-absorbed) she immediately assumes is inspired and addressed to herself. Helen finds this letter so intense, that she becomes obsessed with it, and it disrupts her inner peace. The mystery of where the letter came from, and who it concerns, draws her into having an affair with a 20-year-old summer hire.

Dear Goat,

How does one fall in love? Does one trip? Do you stumble, lose your balance and drop to the sidewalk, graze your knee, graze your heart? Do you crash to the stony ground? Is there a precipice, from which you float, over the edge, forever?

I know I'm in love when I see you, I know when I long to see you. Not a muscle has moved. Leaves hang unruffled by any breeze. The air is still. I have fallen in love without taking a step. When did this happen? I haven't even blinked.

I'm on fire. Is that too banal for you? It's not, you know. You'll see. It's what happens. It's what matters. I'm on fire.

I no longer eat, I forget to eat. Food looks silly to me, irrelevant. If I even notice it. But I notice nothing. My thoughts are full and raging, a house full of brothers, related by blood, feuding blood feuds:

"I'm in love."
"Typically stupid choice."
"I am, though, I'm racked by love as if love were pain."
"Go ahead. Fuck up your life. It's all wrong and you know it. Wake up. Face it."
"There's only one face, it's all I see, awake or asleep."

I threw the book out the window last night. I tried to forget. You are all wrong for me, I know it, but I no longer care for my thoughts unless they're thoughts of you. When I'm close to you, in your presence, I feel your hair brush my cheek when it does not. I look away from you, sometimes. Then I look back.

When I tie my shoes, when I peel an orange, when I drive my car, when I lie down each night without you, I remain,

As ever,


TLP said...

I abolutely LOVED this book! LOVED IT!

But the movie was a horrible disappointment.

Doug said...

I never read the book, but what is more romantic than the passion between goat and ram?

Minka said...

haven´t heard about it either, a very good choice for this time or day of year :)

AP3 said...

Doug, you are not well.

Yes, it was a really great book... great post, too!

TLP said...

I just finished STONES FROM THE RIVER, by Ursula Hegi. Have you read it?

actonbell said...

No, Mom--we'll talk about that one at b'fast:)