Given today’s date, it seems only appropriate that my post should be about “the L word.”
(Love, that is; not lederhosen. We’ll talk about that some other time, when the memory is not so painful. But I digress…)
Back to love. I’m a big fan of it. And I really appreciate when authors get love right. And conversely (a word that in this context has nothing to do with my favorite high-top sneakers), it bugs me when authors get love wrong.
I recently went on a reading binge, devouring a group of novels by a popular author I’ve belatedly discovered. I really enjoy this author’s writing: it’s funny, insightful, cinematic, jam-packed with conflict, and he explores complex issues of family, sexuality, and death.
But after reading several of his books I began to notice one thing: his male protagonists’ “love” for the main female characters in his books really just boils down to physical attraction. In book after book, his first-person narrators describe the aching beauty of these women, but really nothing more. We’re told that the guy loves the girl, and we’re informed repeatedly that she is totally smokin’ hot, but beyond that, we never really see why he loves her.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m also a big fan of totally smokin’ hotness. And I understand and believe in the notion of “chemistry” between people, both fictional and in real life. And no, I don’t think every romantic relationship in a novel needs to be The Greatest, Deepest Love That Could Ever Exist, Ever. Still, I find it odd that an author who is so good at capturing the complexities, dysfunction, tragedy and humor that are inherent in life consistently describes romantic love as something only slightly deeper than flat-out physical objectification. [Read more…]