A Good Book is like A funeral…or A High School Boyfriend

Let me just give a little forward to this blog.  I am laying in bed like a swooning maiden with one hand lying on my forehead, and I’m surrounded by crumpled tissues; on the floor, underneath the pillow, poking out of one nostril (and the bra) and just in my general sitting area.  The box grandma crocheted for me is here too, in all of it’s pink glory, because obviously anyone who needs tissues, also needs bright colors.  My hair is very Lemony Snicket and the Nyquil that didn’t work last night is on the floor.  Note to self: Don’t buy an off-brand Nyquil because it just won’t make you pass out into oblivion.

So, if anything in this blog doesn’t make sense, just chalk it up to my head feeling like it is becoming one Grand Canyon and my nose, Niagra Falls.  I’m just enchantingly turning into the seven world wonders, in my 5’3-esque body. I’m sick and WONDER(FULL). And corny…clearly.

I decided to write this little diddy of a blog because last night I finished a book by Ann Packer called The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. A quick review is: it started slow and when I stopped assuming the main male character was my boyfriend and the main female character was me, it got a lot less intense.  However, when it came to a close I found myself wanting more, which is effective since I got right on the libraries’ website and searched Ann Packer in order to read more by her, but then..how long are you supposed to wait before you pick up another book?

That’s my main question here.  Are books like funerals, where you have to go back to the house and stand around all the cold or pre-cooked food and nibble your way through a few more hours of family memories just to be able to say that you did that, and you gave your condolences?  Do you owe the time after a book, to that book, in order to reflect on it’s bigger meaning?  Because then we come to these supposed “chick lit” books and we sit there reading them on our polka-dotted beach towels, with our mid-drifts exposed and our hair getting stuck in the nose-perches of our sunglasses, do we really owe those books a few hours afterward of reflection?  Are they the widow of the funeral?

This book by Ann Packer really didn’t make me think, I suppose, but it did make me hate the female character and all her motives, and the kinds of situations she put herself in with older, mysterious-brooding-but-really-not-that-exciting-or-lovable of men….Halfway through the book I really just wanted to sit her down and have a serious conversation about where her life is headed.  I mean we’re both twenty-three, we could have just stopped for a cup of coffee at the local place down the street, sat in the wobbly-wooden stools and stared at each other.  I’ve been in situations where I don’t want the love to last anymore because of my own freedom and need to just be myself for a while (que “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and Fergie).  But, she was so selfish, and so self-loathing that at the time I really just wanted to pour a bottle of wine down her new handmade velvet dress and call it a day.

And this is where I figure, good books are like our high school boyfriends.  We all have promise rings, we all want to kiss in the crowded hallways outside of our classrooms and merge fingers and hands and never let go.  Maybe we sit too long in the parking lot during lunch hour, making out (or more if you were the slutty cheerleader at my high school).  We want it to last until prom.  We want to believe that we can make it through going to college long distance and all the things you despise about this person (his mother, his  hunting, his patchy facial hair) he makes up for during your all-night phone calls of listening to each other breathe and his heavy arm over your shoulders in the movie theater (even though he’d never let you see the chick-flic)…have I exhausted the metaphor?

You owe something to this book…

To accept the characters for who they are even though they feel like your best friend making an absolute stupid move that you can’t stop in her big life of Monopoly.

To dwell on the pages a little more after you come to the acknowledgements just to see how you feel about it, what you would do in their situations (with Packer, would you leave your fiance/boyfriend after however many odd-years if he broke his neck and would never walk again because you knew before he broke his neck that you needed to experience things alone, and things just for yourself, and maybe find yourself).  Because let’s face it, you’re in these relationships where two people become one (that HAS GOT TO BE a Disney song) and so you do lose parts of yourself to this person, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I’m also saying that I’d personally like to keep myself intact.

And here I am losing parts of myself to a book.  Having feelings towards a book that I would have to a high school boyfriend.  Yes, I want to throw you across a room, but then, yes I want to sit there in the comforter of my bed and smell your pages.  Yes, I want to rip this character out in her silk robe she just made, and make her sulk in the corner of my room for a while, but then yes, I want to hug her and tell her I feel the same way, and she’s selfish, but she’s brave.

It’s that damn need to hold on, and let go.  And some books hold on, and some books let go (much like those pesky little boyfriends in your high school yearbooks that you dress nice for at high school reunions).

So, we’ve come to the conclusion of all my jibberish at the end of this blog.  My last blog was much better than this, if you feel like scrolling and finding out things about poetry.  I think I’ve concluded my argument.  I think this could be written better so after I publish it I’m going to sit at work all day reading a new book, wondering what else I could have said to make this come alive.  You can’t get them every time though can ya, some blogs have to be dull, or rant-tastic, or just whiny.

I recommend Packer’s book.  I recommend a minimum of two hours to stew on a finished novel before picking up another book of any kind.  (I always read before bed so it was really hard for me not to pick up another book last night, but I didn’t, I gave Packer and her funeral, and my high school boyfriend all in one the two hours they deserved.

And now, I’ll start something new, because we always start anew as well.  Out with the old, in with the new!

8 thoughts on “A Good Book is like A funeral…or A High School Boyfriend

  1. Jennifer O says:

    Wonderful article. I cried like 13 year old girl when I read Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife. Not the pretty crying, more like the ugly, red, swollen hiccupy kind.

    “And this is where I figure, good books are like our high school boyfriends. We all have promise rings, we all want to kiss in the crowded hallways outside of our classrooms and merge fingers and hands and never let go.”

    Great lines.

    I’m tweeting this. Hope you don’t mind.

    • cassiemannes says:

      Jennifer, Thanks for sharing a new book to put on my list! I’ll have to read it if it made you cry (especially an ugly monster of a cry). And thanks for tweeting it to more people. I love your Elizabeth Taylor blog, by dad has made me watch Cleopatra so many times. Thanks for sharing your blog as well. :)

  2. sam says:

    Great post. (It makes me want to try writing with some Nyquil in my system ;-) ) My fave books always leave me with a “hangover.” Their characters wander through my head long after I’ve read the book. They poke around where they’re not supposed to and make me cry and laugh at the most inappropriate times. Yes, I’m weird that way. Thanks for the book reco! :D

    • cassiemannes says:

      I love that “hangover” metaphor! Awesome! And thanks for the Nyquil pep-talk, maybe it actually helped! The book is slow at first, but it gets goin’ in the middle there – let me know how you like it!!

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. bea mannes says:

    I loved the above quote as well, and enjoyed the comparison of books to both boyfriends and funerals, especially comparing books to “the widow”. You really are all up in your head, aren’t you? Another great blog, and a great review of the book too. It is wonderful when a book can inspire so much free thought and good writing. Thankyou!

  4. Ivana says:

    Hey Sam, I’m like you when it comes to book characters, they stay with me for quite a while and sometimes I feel like I was going to argue with them in public, which would be really embarrassing.

    Cassie, wonderful blog. A book must have something good in it if it inspires such writing.

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