Monday, October 28, 2013

Love etc.

Cambridge, England
Romantic comedies are often labelled as chick flicks while romantic novels are classified as chick lit.  Whatever they are labelled as , these reads and movies with happy endings are funny and entertaining. I also enjoy reading contemporary fictions where the writers are sensitive and perceptive in telling the stories of their protagonists without offering any resolutions nor happy endings. A week ago, in my course of work, a woman wanted to seek some legal advice about getting a divorce from her husband. After she had cancelled and rescheduled her appointments several times, she showed up at my office without a scheduled appointment. For some reasons, she had somehow told the husband that she was coming to see me and where she would be. The husband arrived in my chamber shortly after her as he clearly did not want their marriage to end up in court. The woman was obviously troubled so was the man. He looked bewildered when his wife left my office in a huff. 

In The Interestings, a novel written by Meg Wolitzer , seventeen year old Goodman, one of the teenagers was upset at the sight of his ex girlfriend getting close to a new boy at the camp, he knocked back a few drinks. Here is an extract from the book by one of my favourite writers. It is a story about coming of age and friendship that was forged by shared memories and  artistic interests.

“Gudrun, tell me something,” the very drunk  Goodman asked the counselor . “ Why do you think women act the way they do. Being all needy and then getting you completely drawn in, then screwing things up. Doing this little back and forth with you. Why are relationships so fucked up? Does it ever change? Is it different in Denmark?”

“ What are you asking me exactly?” Gudrun said. “ Why do I think the problems between the men and women of the world are the way they are today? You want to know whether the problems that you teenagers feel- will they follow you over the rest of your lives? Will your hearts always be aching? Is that what you are asking me?”
 Goodman shifted in discomfort. “ Something like that ,” he said.

“ Yes,” said the counselor in a suddenly plangent voice.” “ Always they will be aching. I wish I could tell you something else, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth. My wise and gentle friends, this is the way it will be from now on.”

As one goes through life, one becomes sinister and realistic as we know that when a deal is too good to be true, there is a reason behind and you may be a means to an end. In the “ The Truth” by Michael Palin, Keith Mabbut is an environmentalist journalist and a  straight and honest guy. He had been commissioned to write a book about the elusive humanitarian hero Hamish Melville. His agent, Silla contacted him at the time when  he had wanted to start writing his novel, a fiction entitled “Albana”.  He told his agent, Silla that she had torpedoed his first day on Albana and Silla responded, “ Albania or Nirvana. You can’t have both.”

Mabbut’s marriage had disintegrated and his estranged wife had moved on. Palin wrote : “When  he pleaded creativity, she demanded practicality . It was an argument they had from the moment they met. After they were married, she had settled into life and he had not.

When Mabbut was asked to write the book, the offer was attractive so he questioned, “ Why would a sleek, smooth plausible man like Ron Latham have any interest in an iconoclast such as Melville? The Truth is about  the decisions that Mabbut had to make in his life, the price of compromise and how the  truth can be whatever you want it to be.

Crazy Rich Asians is a funny story about  three superrich, pedigreed Chinese families and their  snobberies.When Nicholas Young heir of one of the wealthiest families in Asia brought home Rachel, his Chinese girlfriend from New York to attend his best friend’s wedding , Rachel became the target of gossips that spun through the grapevines. When Eleanor, Nick’s mother found out about her son’s plan to bring home an unknown girl, she flipped and set out to find out the girl’s roots. Eleanor asked her friend Lorena to do some investigative work and found out that there was a fellow who claimed to have information on Rachel. So she gathered her group of rich “tai tai” friends  and headed to Shenzhen to meet the man who would trade his information for a price.

“Thirty thousand yuan? That is ridiculous!” Eleanor seethed at the man in the poly-blend gray jacket seated across from her in the lounge off the lobby of the Ritz- Calton. The man looked around to make sure that Eleanor’s outburst wasn’t attracting too much attention.
 “Trust me, it will be worth your money,’ the man said quietly in Mandarin.

Kevin Kwan has told the story with a keen observation about snootiness and wealth while some of the characterizations could be stereotyping and the story per se may belong to the chic lit genre nonetheless his story telling was peppered with humour and it has been a fun ride reading it . 

The Elephant House (Edinburgh)

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