OK. We’ve made an important decision about The Time Traveler’s Wife which is that I am not emotionally mature enough to read it. It’s like spending days and days in art museums or limiting screen time for my children; I wish I was that kind of person, but I’m not.
I probably should have also told you that I have a Long History with tragic, triumphant stories, and it’s not pretty. I read The Chamber by John Grisham, for example, in 1995 a few months after Greg and I got married. Sitting with me on our horribly uncomfortable but very practical and strangely durable navy couch the day I finished, Greg learned the hard truth that his new wife hurls tragic books across the room and into the fireplace after holding them above her head, brandishing them like a Scottish broadsword wielded by William Wallace on his way to battle the British, and shrieking unintelligible war cries with tears tracking down her face. For a man who was raised by calm parents, it was something of a shock, and I’m not sure he ever quite recovered. On the bright side, though, Greg’s wife is adorable, guys. And none of this comes even close to the phone calls I had to make to my friend, Melissa, the times I decided to watch Legends of the Fall and The Notebook while home alone. I don’t remember all the details, but I do know the situation involved sobbing, a fetal position, and Melissa hollering through the phone, “TURN IT OFF, BETH; it does NOT get better. STOP RIGHT NOW!”
So, you know. Not gonna finish The Time Traveler’s Wife or ever find out how it ends, even though that’s what a reasonable person would do. This way, I can leave Henry and Claire blissfully suspended in their 20’s, desperately in love, happy, and having lots of sex. I expect a thank you note from them any day now.
Unfortunately, my friend Heidi is now concerned she has broken me and that I’ll never be friends with her again. To set the record straight, a) I was broken WAY before the Time Traveler’s Wife, b) I am reading extremely smutty vampire books to make up for the terror and angst TTW has caused so will be fully recovered shortly, and c) I never give this kind of crap to people unless I adore them. Crap-giving and laying blame are my love languages. And also cheese. And fresh salsa with paper thin corn chips. So we’re good, Heidi, et al. Swearsies.
P.S. For those of you who are fans of tragedy and triumph, however, I do have an actual REAL suggestion, which is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I read The Sparrow before I discovered I’m not emotionally mature enough to read tragedy and triumph. Kind of like how Dumbo flew before he discovered the feather wasn’t actually magic. It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Sparrow is the book, next to the Bible, that has had the most spiritual impact on me in that it gave me words and images to express disenchantment and disillusionment with theology and the church — and a way to restructure my thinking about both — at a time when that was critical to my faith journey. The Sparrow is fictional. It’s sci fi (but only ostensibly). And it’s deep and complex and enthralling and magical and terrible and true. I commend Father Emilio Sandoz to your care should you choose to bring him to life by reading this book; be gentle with him, and kind. He’s my friend, and he deserves our great compassion when we bear witness to his story.
“A visionary work that combines speculative fiction with deep philosophical inquiry, The Sparrow tells the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a scientific mission entrusted with a profound task: to make first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The mission begins in faith, hope, and beauty, but a series of small misunderstandings brings it to a catastrophic end.” <– Sounds fun, right??
P.P.S. Thanks for letting me fly my broken, weirdo flag in front of you all… aka, my “I’m Made out of Human” flag. You’re the greatest.