Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead

"Love stories, without exception, give love a bad name...  It is perhaps only in reading a love story (or in writing one) that we can simultaneously partake of the ecstasy and agony of being in love without paying a crippling emotional price.  I offer this book then, as a cure for lovesickness and an antidote to adultery.  Read these love stories in the safety of your single bed.  Let everybody else suffer."

That message on the book jacket was one of the things that made me pick up the book in first place.  That, and the great cover.  Plus the fact that this collection is edited by Jeffrey Eugenides, author of Middlesex and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 

My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead was my pick for the Book Babes this year, and this was the month for me to host the discussion at my house. 

We got a late start to talking about the actual book, busily enjoying the Indian meal and catching up on everyone's news.    

Laura was diligent and read the book cover-to-cover. Several of us had read several stories, while two (I'm not naming names! lol...) hadn't been able to find a copy in time to read the stories.

Some favourite stories included:
  • 'The Bear Came over the Mountain', by Alice Munro
  • 'Natasha', by David Bezmozgis
  • 'Lovers of Their Time', by William Trevor
  • 'The Bad Thing', by David Gates
James Joyce's story 'The Dead' was on someone's 'least favourite' list, until Nicki pointed out a tender-hearted passage where the narrator looks at his wife of many years and realizes how much he deeply, truly loves her.  Of course he is quickly distracted by something else, but still, that moment is captured so well.  Maybe you need to hear this read out loud, by someone with an Irish accent, in a pub while you're drinking a good strong ale.

We talked about the importance of point of view in the short story in general, but how significant it is in a love story especially.  Is the narrator reliable, self-absorbed, lost in the 'other', or just plain lost?  And in fact, isn't love, at least partly, about being able to see something from someone else's point of view?  Merging, losing yourself or becoming more than your 'self'.

Some deep philosophical notions intertwined with some celebrity gossip - after all, on this topic, how could we not speculate about Tiger Woods at the Masters or Sandra Bullock at this year's Oscars and Golden Globes?

1 comment:

Nicki BH said...

Aren't we an interesting group!!