I must admit it. I threw Love in the Time of Cholera in the give away stack, never to be seen again, I hope. At book club we watched the movie that was released last year, with Javier Bardem as the "hero" (and I use that term extremely loosely). Didn't like the movie, either.
You see, it falls into the same trap as Wuthering Heights, another of those "oh, so romantical" books that make me want to curse and throw things. The tag line for the movie was "How long would you wait for love?" Sounds good, huh? But what they don't tell you is that after being spurned by the girl he fell in love with as a young man, the main character proceeds to sleep with more than 600 women before he is reunited with his "love" 52 years later.
And these affairs are not without consequence. One young woman is killed by her jealous husband. Another young woman (his NIECE, whom he began sleeping with when she was FOURTEEN) kills herself when he leaves he to go be with his "one true love".
Sorry, but that is just overheated, fake romance and is a pile of you know what. You want me to admire him for "waiting" for 52 years? Then actually WAIT for 52 years. If you don't and proceed to have more than 600 affairs (which you catalog in a notebook) then it's not "romantic" it's pathetic and grossly wrong. It is yet another attempt to separate sex from love, and make it OK to have sex randomly--after all it doesn't MEAN anything, does it? Yuck.
Oh, and women throw themselves wantonly at this man ALL THE TIME. While we were watching the movie, Bethany (the youngest of our book group members) said, "Well, it's obvious that this was some man's fantasy, isn't it?"
Yes it is.
Anyway, I put it aside to read Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres, which is a small book. Basically a collection of stories about a dog in Australia. It's meh. But it's next month's book club book, so I'll read it. At least it doesn't make me throw things.
I'm also reading Right Ho, Jeeves and laughing away at poor Gussie Fink-Nottle, lover of newts. Genius.
And I'm reading Fr. Neuhaus' book Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth. I just finished his conversion story, which I was fascinated by, as I am by all conversion stories. I guess we converts can't help but love 'em, because there is such a sense of "Oh yeah? You too?" While Neuhaus was a Lutheran, and I was an Anglican, much of what he says is certainly true of me. The last part of the chapter rang especially true:
The root of all sin, said Luther, following Augustine, is a condition described in two words: Incurvatus est--we are turned in upon ourselves. The young Augustine, like people of all times, including our own, thought he was searching for God. Yet in his mastery of all the philosophical paths, he was the master, and therein was the problem. Finally he faced the question: "What am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction?" Perhaps his best-known line is this: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." Rest comes with surrender, with being shaken out of the state of incurvatus est, with submission to an other, and finally to the Other. The Other is embodied, as in the body of Christ, the Church. The form of the body, most fully and rightly ordered through time, has a location as specific as the location of New York. Finitum capax infiniti--the finite is capable of the infinite. One's search could not forever stop short of the finite that is the Catholic Church.
One day maybe I'll write out my conversion story. But this much is the same as Fr. Neuhaus' search--though he puts his so well, and I cannot--our search began with a search for the Church that was TRUE, not the Church of Terry and Craig. We knew we had to be where truth was, not where we were comfortable. In fact, we suspected that comfort would have very little to do with it.
Anyway, Neuhaus' book is good, and worth a look.