Welcome to another edition of Lit Thursday! Let yourself get carried away with these, especially as you'll be spending a lot of time with your family this weekend. (You can share the books with your family too, we're not advocating for anti-social evenings—not that there's anything wrong with that!)More
"I'm a big re-reader, and one of the books I keep going back to is a collection of short stories by the writer Antonya Nelson, called Nothing Right. What I love about Nelson's work is that she delves deep into the lives of regular people—midwesterners and Texans, usually, who are dealing with everyday tragedies. They're getting divorced, or their troubled teenager knocked up his delinquent girlfriend, or they have cancer, but their problems are never treated as lurid or silly. She captures the emotional lives of her subjects perfectly, in gorgeous prose, with observations like: "Losing William to divorce felt to Constance exactly like losing her mother to death: she'd grown to resent the cloying, unconditional love, her own role as a spoiled child in its nonjudgmental vapor, and then, as soon as it was gone, she immediately wished to have it restored, around her like a force field."
It's rainy and I'm traveling, so I've picked out a book that matches my mood. Enter L'amant, or as its known in English, The Lover, by French author Marguerite Duras. Duras published this semi-autobiographical work when she was in her seventies; the events that transpire—a young white girl's mentally ardent and destructive affair with a young adult Chinese man living in French colonial Vietnam—bear some resemblance to Duras' own youth. When I first read the book, my mind went immediately to Nabokov. It's a bit crude to place Lolita and L'amant together, but I submit that it is somewhat useful, especially to see how the acknowledgment of empire and war freight introspective love stories. If you can call it that, a love story: the nameless girl and Léo, because of so many gulfs separating them, are clearly never meant to have any type of happy ending.