Tag Archives: love

The Horrifying Love Lives of Famous Authors

From Flavorwire, by Michelle Dean, an excerpt:

In the abstract, everyone would like to fall in love with a famous writer. It holds out the promise of fabulous love letters and, if one is very lucky, immortalization as the subject of a super-romantic poem. I mean, Keats’ beloved Fanny Brawne really lucked out, I think, with “Bright star, bright star / would I were as steadfast as thou art.” I would be thrilled if someone would write that about me.

But it’s not always like that. In fact, it usually isn’t. A few years back, the wonderful music critic Nitsuh Abebe took to his Tumblr to point out that, in fact, writers are actually sort of terrible to date. Selfish, too focused on writing, did I mention selfish? And though Abebe doesn’t cite specific examples, I will. Literary history is littered with them.

Of course, viewed in a certain light, nearly every famous writer has a checkered romantic past. But some are worse than others, on the relative scale of romantic tomfoolery. Here are some truly egregious examples from the annals of literary history, mostly men, which was not a conscious choice of mine but just sort of happened. Make of that what you will.

Read the whole thing at the above link.



A Natural History of Love

From brain pickings:

“A one-syllable word heavy as a heartbeat … a sort of traffic accident of the heart.”

An interesting piece on Diane Ackerman’s two-decade old book, A Natural History Of Love.

Ella Berthoud on Love in Literature

From The Browser, FiveBooks Interviews—

Rekindle your relationship, remember first passions and beware obsessive love with help from these suggestions

The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim

Greengage Summer, by Rumor Godden

On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan

Les Enfants Terribles, by Jean Cocteau

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

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On Enduring Love

From The Browser, FiveBook Interviews, with Riz Khan’s recommendations—commentary at the link:

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The World According to Garp, by John Irving

Before She Met Me, by Julian Barnes

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

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Metaphorical Love

From Richard Nordquist, an article referring to a piece from the past called, Love Is a Metaphor—99 of them.

As our collection demonstrates, love has been compared to everything from a migraine headache and a hawk with velvet claws to a banana peel and an exploding cigar. And while some comparisons evoke a sense of rapture, others impart feelings of cynicism or despair.

And some are simply funny, like Frank Cardone’s comment that love is like a river:

She fell for him like her heart was a mob informant and he was the east river!!!

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Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love

From Literary Kicks, the introduction:

There’s nothing wrong with the sideways-glance approach to the philosophical canon. Andrew Shaffer’s Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love is a slim, friendly book that asks a pertinent question: if folks like Saint Thomas Aquinas, Simone de Beauvoir, John Calvin, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emanuel Swedenborg were so smart, how did they manage to meet life’s most personal challenge? Were they able to find true love, and if so were they able to sustain happy long-term relationships? What can we learn from the choices or mistakes they made?

Interesting comments, also.

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The Question of Hell

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me an article called, “Who’s in Hell? Pastor’s Book Sparks Eternal Debate.” I read it, groaned, and thought to myself, “I don’t have a ready answer to this…I’ll get to it later.” The article is in reference to a book by Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LIved, which I haven’t read.

You see, I do not believe in the literal biblical descriptions of hell, for example, as a place “where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” I see such descriptions as symbols of a spiritual death. Nor do I think as I’ve heard (within the last five years) three “progressive” Methodist ministers state, in one form or another: “it doesn’t matter what you do because God is love.” In other words, universal forgiveness overrides any notion of a God of justice—so Hitler and Mother Teresa are now friends. (Talk about groaning!)

A recent New York Times article by Ross Douthat, A Case for Hell, suggests that:

Doing away with hell, then, is a natural way for pastors and theologians to make their God seem more humane. The problem is that this move also threatens to make human life less fully human.

Atheists have license to scoff at damnation, but to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices. If there’s no possibility of saying no to paradise then none of our no’s have any real meaning either. They’re like home runs or strikeouts in a children’s game where nobody’s keeping score.

In this sense, a doctrine of universal salvation turns out to be as deterministic as the more strident forms of scientific materialism. Instead of making us prisoners of our glands and genes, it makes us prisoners of God himself. We can check out any time we want, but we can never really leave.

Or, as C. S. Lewis said,

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’  All that are in Hell, choose it.  Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”  (The Great Divorce)

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Review—Stoner, by John Edward Williams

Stoner (1965), by John Edward Williams

A brief commentary by Frank Wilson stimulated me to read the book. More on his thoughts later.

The story begins with a two-paragraph recap of his his life—entering the University of Missouri in 1910, receiving his PhD, his acceptance of an instructorship there, his lack of ascension in the ranks, and his death in 1956. Right away, the reader knows there are problems ahead, e.g. ”Stoners’s colleagues, who held him in no particular esteem when he was alive, speak of him rarely now; to the older ones, his name is a reminder of the end that awaits them all, and to the younger ones it is merely a sound which evokes no sense of the past and no identity which they can associate themselves or their careers.”

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Review—Hating Olivia, by Mark SaFranko

Every book I read these days is an opportunity for me to evaluate writing styles. And when I think back on all the crime thrillers, suspense novels, and noir fiction that I’ve enjoyed over the years, it’s the punchy dialog, the brevity of words, and “the short declarative sentences,” as in reference to Hemingway, that I liked. This was often coupled with poetic prose that gave these books a contrasting feel—where one can get a sense of the author’s soul.

I’ve only recently been introduced to authors John Fante and Charles Bukowski, and although their subjects are depressing, they’re style is somewhat similar. It’s unfair to say that Mark SaFranko’s Hating Olivia is exactly like them, but as Dan Fante, son of John Fante, said in the introduction, “Hating Olivia is fresh meat, a gift tied together with a bloodstained bow.”

There’s another thing: Mr. SaFanko has written a “hundred short stories, fifty of them already in print. A box full of poetry and essays. And ten complete novels, eight of them yet to hit the bookshelves. A dozen plays, some produced in New York and others staged in Ireland. SaFranko writes songs too, a hundred and fifty so far.” So, unpublished old guy that I am, I’m intimidated before I’ve finished the introduction!

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Elevator Speech for my Novel

Examples of my understanding of the definition of an elevator speech:

You’re a bright young businesswoman with credentials waiting for an elevator on the first floor and you’re on your way to the eleventh floor for an important meeting at a high class firm. The door opens, and as you step in, Warren Buffett appears behind you, enters the elevator, and pushes the button for the tenth floor. You’re the only two people in the elevator. He notices you and not only asks you what you do for a living but is interested in your career goals. The elevator starts to move. What you say is your elevator speech–and you’ve got a very short time to impress him.

Or…you’re an unpublished novelist and a similar situation occurs but this time it’s your favorite writer, one that you know has influence and helps new writers get in the door with major publishers. You introduce yourself and tell him you’ve written your first novel.  He is gracious and then says, “What’s it about?” You’ve got maybe thirty seconds to knock his socks off.

So here’s my elevator speech: Continue reading