I’m not really into reading “how-to” books. Partly because I’m one of the curious kind who enjoys learning and exploring and figuring things out on my own. Also partly because I’m flat out stubborn as a petulant (but very cute) little mule. Need I even mention the sweet, immaculate gifts from God: Google and Youtube. Not to mention the other endless internet sources and apps created for our convenience, to teach us anything or serve as a quick fix for any problem under the sun that we might have? Who the hell needs an instruction manual long enough and with the nerve to actually call itself a book?
And then one day, browsing all the books that I really don’t need to be buying right now on Amazon, something caught my eye. “READ THIS IF YOU WANT TO TAKE GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS” flashed across my screen, and my interest immediately piqued.
or, The Surprisingly Awesome Ramblings of Old Men
I never knew, or would have ever dreamed to think, that such drama could be caused by two rambling, decrepit old men. We’re talking love triangles, best friend betrayals, war, attempted murder, even some weird sexual attraction between the main character and his maid. Embers by Hungarian author Sandor Marai could well be fit for a melodramatic daytime soap opera or perhaps even a new MTV hit show. Picture it: It’s The Jersey Shore, only in the Carpathian Mountains!
Unfortunately the two characters of interest, Henrik and Konrad, are disparagingly old (they repeatedly state how they’re practically about to fall over into their graves at any moment), not quite as appealing to female audiences as the metro sexual hunkalicious male soap stars, nor as pumped as the beefcake, muscle-flaunting bros of The Jersey Shore. Thankfully (Serious. Thank GOD!) Embers is actually very well-written, and chock-full of philosophical and intellectually stimulating goodness.
I cannot say that I fully enjoyed this book. Though, to say it’s a book that should not be read would be a far more inaccurate statement. As the book cover says, Art and Madness is a “memoir of lust without reason.” It is a tale of a young woman lovesick for artists – writers in particular – men, tormented and passionate and drowning in alcohol, their lives devoted to writing gorgeous creations into the world.
Yet Anne Roiphe, our narrator and heroine, flawed as she is, is tormented as well, though not by the overconsumption of alcohol and the need for artistic immortality. She is tormented by the company she keeps and the life she lives in the literary “art scene” of the 1950s and 60s.
In essence, she is lovesick because she doesn’t even realize that it is in fact not these men she is in love with. It is art, itself.
Making my very first blog post in what, three years now? one that discusses a book about sex is probably not the wisest nor, to many people, the classiest way to make a good first impression for the return and revamp of my lovely little creative space online. This could get awkward. Hopefully not. That’s up to you lovely adventurers out there.
Then again, this is the internet. Not exactly the classiest venue, when it comes to book reviews or anything else.
But, if you are as adventurous as I certainly hope you are and choose to follow me down the rabbit hole here, I can guarantee that my first impression will be, if anything, quite delightful, and perhaps a bit educational as well.