Happy Valentine’s Day!
I’ve got chocolate hearts on the brain and vanilla scented candles burning as I try to melt into the freezing cold of my sweet love’s arms after he so beautifully shoveled my car out of waist deep snow. This is our first Valentine’s Day after moving in together and though both of us are exhausted from the overwhelming amounts of white and winter, I’m lusting over these extended snow days together.
In honor of all things red and sweet and glowing, I’ve compiled a heart shaped box of books for you to break open and savor the sweet insides. These are not all love stories as not all of us have a love story to celebrate right now, though we can all find a bit of sweetness, even if it’s just reveling against the corporate holiday or getting lushed-out on pink frothy drinks and blood remembrances.
As always, these are in no particular order but they do share the common theme of heat, camaraderie, and RED. In honor of the holiday:
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant: When I read this, it all gelled. I found a piece of feminist history that didn’t know it by it’s cover. The story of Dinah, daughter of Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, the four wives of Jacob, is a much different telling than that of the Bible’s Genesis. This is the Genesis of womanhood, of the time of the moon and the blood that flows and nurtures all. The narrative compels you to think of what the past held for women and the kind of strength we needed to survive. It puts our modern feminism to shame. And no, it does not ask you to think of it as such. But I do.
The Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson: Ahhh sweet Geryon; the red griffon of Greek mythology is given wings and hope in this eclectic, tragic, beautiful love story. From his chain-smoking-always-on-the-phone mom, to his brother pushing him off the bed, to his misfit mismatched days in school, to his tragic almost love affair with Herakles, we follow Geryon in rapture and cry and rail at the injustice of a life so forlorn, while lusting over this beautifully told tale and falling head-first into Carson’s poetic use of craft and language.
Zipper Mouth, Laurie Weeks: The junkie girl in bed, writing letters to Sylvia Plath, just barely making enough money to feed herself while daydreaming of a love affair with her best friend Jane and night-clubbing into endless dry fucks, takes us through a tour of the underbelly of NYC. She opens us up to the red light district in her mind and her resilience and repugnance is one of the freshest tales of terror. Read this with red wine, or whiskey. It goes down so very smooth just as it terrifies and satisfies.
Veronica, Mary Gaitskill: In Veronica, Gaitskill writes eloquently about living in “The endless beautiful rooms inside the songs – wander through them long enough – their beauty and endlessness becomes horrible. There is so much, you always want more.” Allison’s life as a young model and her travels to paris, her time in the fashion world, her love and horror of it parallels her obsession with Veronica, a woman dying of aids. New York is the backdrop for this tale, the nightlife and fashion are highlighted as the two women come to terms with their life’s trajectory. This is a different type of love song. One for the century, one filled with passion and dying. And the writing is like music played at just the right tempo to make you want to dance all night.
You Suck – A Love Story, Christopher Moore: We need a little humor in our vampire love stories and this one delivers from the very first line – “You bitch, you killed me. You suck!” Tommy wakes up after a fabulous night with his girlfriend to find that she really isn’t just like other girls… And from there they prowl the streets of San Francisco, work the aisles of the grocery stores (Turkey Bowling, anyone?), and acclimate themselves to everlasting life. It’s a trip. And it’s so very worth it. Take a bite out of Christopher Moore. You will be hooked. His dialogue alone will stave off the loneliest night and his goth/surfer/psychotic characters will make you forget you have no valentine, or make your Valentine wonder why you can’t put the freaking book down and come to bed.
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion: We all need a good cry and this book is just that. It’s done in such a crafty way as to not make you cry as you experience the sadness and loss that Ms. Didion went through in that terrible, magical year. Her reminiscence and the love/almost love/loss and contemplation will make you feel much better about what ails you. Sometimes we need this. And when we do, it’s best served by a wonderful writer with a journalistic bent who knows how to keep the story moving.
And lastly – cause we need some cartoon pornography to get through this day too:
The Curious Sofa, Ogdred Weary (Edmund Gorey):
The picture says so much more than I could ever explain about this tricky, dicky, wondrous graphic novel…
Enjoy the lovely holiday based upon an execution. If that doesn’t help, well then dark chocolate and red wine should do the trick. Kiss Kiss.