I met a man two months ago in a bookstore on sales. I did not meet this man in person, although Lord knows I wish I did, I met him by way of a book he edited whose quirky title caught my fancy. Buying My Mistress’s Sparrow: Great love stories from Chekhov to Munro was closer to a fluke than an informed purchase. You see, I am not a fan of love stories and the mushiness that come with such but the title caught my attention – I love quirky things and this qualified as one in my opinion.
I only started reading this 600+ page collection of short stories yesterday and the enchanting way this man weaves words into sentences in the introduction alone is one of the reasons why I am in love with him. In his words:
“When it comes to love, there are a million theories to explain it. But when it comes to love stories, things are simpler. A love story can never be about full possession. The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims – those are lucky eventualities but they aren’t love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name”
In the introduction, he talks about the poet, Catullus’s love for someone forbidden, he explains what informed the selection of short stories contained in this book, he speaks of the wonder and inexplicable emotion that is love and the heartbreaks that almost assuredly follow, and he hints at why, despite all its obvious downsides, people still love. For the first time, I see love mentioned so many times in one place and I don’t feel nausea or the need to gorge out my eyeballs with anything available.
“We value love not because it is stronger than death but because it is weaker.
…The perishable nature of love is what gives love its profound importance in our lives.
…It is perhaps only in reading a love story (or in writing one) that we can simultaneously partake of the ecstasy and agony of being in love without paying a crippling emotional price.”
I’m reading this book expecting to get my heart broken with every story I read and yet I’ll love every single second of it. After all, passer pipiabat. Loosely translated – “Better a sparrow, living or dead, than no birdsong at all.”
I met a man on a warm July afternoon and I fell in love with him today. His name is Jeffrey Eugenides and through him, I found “a cure for lovesickness and an antidote to adultery”, it lies in falling in love. Get the book if you can, you might just find love too.
p.s. Also worthy of note: All proceeds from My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead will go directly to fund the free youth writing programs offered by 826 Chicago. 826 Chicago is part of the network of seven writing centers across the United States affiliated with 826 National, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
p.p.s. I’ll be doing a review of most (if not all) of the stories in Jeffrey Eugenides’ My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro. I hope you enjoy this reviews as much as I am enjoying reading this book.