Saturday, January 21, 2012

Karen Contemplates the Idea of Romantic Love

In anticipation, we book clubbers are checking our mailboxes daily to see if our next selection, a Russian novel,  has arrived.  In the mean time, I am contemplating the notion of romantic love as it’s portrayed in our past two selections. A common theme in both IQ84 and Ready Player One is the sappy relationship between the main characters.  In both books, the couples love each other from afar; and after enduring difficult obstacles, hook up passionately. Oozing in sentimentality, we assume they will spend the rest of their lives together. During our discussions, I am a pragmatist among romantics, protesting that in real life, love doesn’t happen that way. I predict these couples will stay together a month or two before the demons they carry surface, leading toward a devastating break-up.  Love, I say, is very complicated.

However, I have a confession for my dear book clubbers.  That sappy romantic love is how my long-term relationship started in true storybook fashion.  We saw each other from afar. It was love at first sight.  A bolt of thunder hit us.  Under it all, I am a deep romantic.

Of course, in both our novels, escape from reality is also a theme. When we are in the Oasis or IQ84 worlds, we are not sure just how real anything is. I am curious about what daily life would be like for these characters if they stayed together in a real world.  Would Tengo change diapers?  Who would cook the meals in the Art3mis/Wade household?  Would Aomame insist that Tengo get rid of his shabby pants? Would Art3mis argue with Wade if he forgot to take out the trash?  For me, the question of  “could these couples stay in love? “ is more intriguing than how they fell in love.

We’ll see if the Russians choose to tackle a love theme in our next novel.


  1. I'm not so sure abou Wade and Art3mis and they seem more cookie cutter and pulp/pop than the more literary Tengo and Aomame. They might split up but more likely in that book's world they would become a more benevolent and super-heroish Bill and Melinda Gates with a huge cult following for decades until they finally die as part of a virtual world game challenge for a successor.

    I do think Tengo and Aomame are going to have a long full rich life together because what they endured was so common to both of them and the incredible long wait and journey to finally come together so binding that they will share deeply with each other that which they always felt compelled to seal off from the world and from themselves prior to 1Q84.

    On the non-meta, magical realism level of 1Q84 it to me is very much a classic love story of two abused children finally finding their soul mates after long odysseys that finally converge.

  2. First sentence of Absurdistan: "This is a book about love." How prescient, Karen.

  3. Karen, now I want to hear more about your love story! It is kind of weird that our first four pbr book club picks have all explicitly explored the idea of "real" and "fictional" worlds colliding, and I think there's a comment in there about how art and literature function in our "real" lives. Do they show us what life is, or what it can be? I'm laughing at myself for being so critical of Wade & Art3mis ("that's not realistic!" how anti-feminist."), yet I am willing to give Aomame and Tengo a free pass for their equally unrealistic, sappy love story.

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