Saturday, 23 August 2014

What I learned About Love From Reading

By Chloe Watson

Love as aspirations… as perversions… as friendships.

American novelist Meg Wolitzer and newly published Australian writer Emily Bitto hit a few soft spots in their discussion: What I Learned About Love From Reading.


Love is not a static experience. Nor is it dependent on romance.

Both ladies expressed the same desire with regard to literature – a wanting for the unordinary love. For Meg that meant a corrupted self-love from extraordinary teenagers and one-sided romances that will never become. For Emily a physical yet platonic love between young girls and perverted loves that bear no boundaries.

As Meg and Emily discussed the relationships brought to life by the protagonists in their most recent novels, The Strays and The Interestings respectively, I began to contemplate the loves I’ve had in my short 25 years:

The love of a high school sweetheart, that runs in circles not knowing quite how to function; a mass of pure confusion. A love that taught me musicians are the best kind of men.

The love of a sister. Built around biological instinct, fuelled by hatred and protection, filled with bear hugs.

The love that is entirely wrong. That you subconsciously know will only cause you pain and heartache; but you continue to hold its hand because “love obliterates pragmatism.”

The love of a forever friend. Who always makes time for you, that never judges, that will pick you up off the bathroom floor at 2am after an alcohol fuelled breakdown; your vomit on their knees. You are each other's life balance as you tackle the long walk home.

The love that will never happen. A figment romance.

Meg’s statement “fiction concentrates love” struck a chord within me. No love is black and white. There is no Heathcliff or Mr. Darcy waiting around the corner; that is what romance novels are for. Love “doesn’t suit the biographies we write.”

Finally, the love of a best friend. A title held only by one. An irrevocable force of 17 years; we are one entity.

She is my greatest love.

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