Sing into my mouth.

In the course of my travels through the landscape of the internet the other day I came across this:

The only lovers left alive.

At first I was actually stunned by how pretty and serene the moving image was. I thought to myself, “That is really quite pretty,” which is somewhat uncharacteristic of me.

Later, I looked at it again and it terrified me somewhat. It look on an ethereal quality, something more haunting. It was no longer just two people, frozen in a moment of happy contentment. Suddenly it looked almost… ghostly, you know? It got me thinking about the web of time, the way memories are sliced separate from reality. Some moments are really quite lovely, if only they could be frozen in place,  allowed to continue on forever, unaware of the progress or decline that comes as the world continues spinning past them. How wonderful it would be if you could preserve them like this, but wouldn’t that deprive them of their meaning, leaving them stripped of their context and ultimately hollow?

Oh well. Just thinking. Every love story eventually becomes a ghost story, and every happy home eventually becomes a haunted house.

Feed the tree.

For no real reason, from a recent interview about his upcoming movie Blue Valentine (which may or may not be stuck with it’s NC-17 rating), here’s Ryan Gosling’s thoughts and feelings on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree

That book is so fucked up; that story’s the worst. I mean, at the end the tree is a stump and the old guy just sitting on him; he’s just used him to death, and you’re supposed to want to be the tree? Fuck you. You be the tree. I don’t want to be the tree.

Hear that? Fuck you. You be the tree. There’s something zen in those words.

What we blog about when we blog about love.

I have a plane trip coming up shortly which leads me to the same old terrified concern of: What the fuck am I going to read on the flight? Four to five hours stuck in a metal box in the middle of the sky jam packed with sweaty strangers? You bet your sweet ass I shall need reading material, probably lots of it, but what, what, what?

One book that will be making the trip with me is Cryptonomicon by Stephenson, mostly because of, well… Here’s how Commander Light so eloquently put it a week or so ago: “You haven’t read that fucking book yet? WTF? Read the fucking book already!”

But another book that I got a few weeks ago and shall be making the trip with me is:

My Mistress’ Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories From Chekhov To Munro, an anthology of love stories edited by Jeffrey Eugenides, and before you say anything else there, just save it. No, none of us have finished Middlesex, okay? But the book, of which all the profits go to the charity 826 Chicago, is a lovely collection of stories from authors like Joyce, Chekhov, Nabokov, Carver, and Faulkner.

from here.

“When it comes to love,” Eugenides says into the fantastic introduction, “there are a million theories to explain it. But when it comes to love stories, things are simpler. A love story can never be about full possession. The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims – these are lucky eventualities but they aren’t love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name.”

I’d really love to reprint the excellent introduction for you here. The title derives from the poet Catullus, whom Eugenides posits is the first to write about a single love affair, with a married woman, Lesbia (whose real name was Clodia). You see, in addition to a husband and a lover, Lesbia had a sparrow, the most famous sparrow in litereature, and she doted on it constantly, even after it died. And the metaphorical sparrow hovers over everyone one of these stories, in some the sparrow is very much alive, and in some, the sparrow is dead.

I’ve been lucky enough to read several of these stories before, all of them classics, and have enjoyed those that I had already read, in particular Miranda July’s “Something That Needs Nothing.” And, of course, the Carver story. And Nabokov’s “Spring In Fialta.” So I leave you with one more excerpt from the introduction to this anthology and below, a few stories. Some of them love stories, and some of them not. But they’re all a fine thing to curl up with on your Sunday afternoon.

“Read these stories… not to confirm the brutal realities of love, but to experience it’s many variegated compensatory pleasures. I offer this book as a cure for lovesickness and an andtidote to adultery. Read these love stories in the safety of your single bed. Let everybody else suffer.”

Happily I present to you here Raymond Carver’s “Beginners,” before it heavily edited by Gordon Lish into it’s much more well known form as “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”

Me And Miss Mandible” by Donald Barthelme.

Little Things” by Raymond Carver.

Timeshare” by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Click!” by John Barth.

Quiet Please,” by Aimee Bender, a short story I like quite a bit.

An excerpt from John Barth’s The End Of The Road.

Great Experiment” by Jeffrey Eugenides.

The Rememberer” by Aimee Bender.

Tunnel Of Fish” by Kate Atkinson.

Bull” by Aimee Bender.