Monday, October 17, 2005

50 Book Challenge #55: On Love

A friend prescribed Alain de Botton's debut novel, On Love, as appropriate reading for the recently heartbroken. While a better title for some chapters might have been "On Limerence," de Botton does, in his sequence of numbered paragraphs and careful diagrams, break down the life cycle of a relationship in acutely perceptive ways. He coins terms for many of the incoherent thought processes incident to such attachments, including "romantic Marxism" (not wanting to be a relationship with anyone who would want to be in a relationship with you) and "romantic terrorism" (the attempts to extract what cannot be freely obtained from the beloved through sulks and guilt trips).

While de Botton's narrator is almost a caricature of immaturity and inexperience in some respects, the melodramatic last chapters may remind the reader of his own less extreme youthful excesses even if they do not inspire identification at present. His obsessive cataloguing of the myriad ways in which love makes mountains out of molehills by sheer virtue of the strength of the emotional currents involved makes for an extremely enjoyable read, and if I smiled wryly more times than I laughed out loud, that is my fault and not de Botton's. Highly recommended to anyone who has been in love or one of its close emotional relations.
blog comments powered by Disqus