Friday, October 17, 2008

The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy

I'm rarely at a total loss of words as to what to say on a book that I've read, but one of those times is now. The Secret Lives of People in Love was just an utterly perfect little compilation of short stories by Simon Van Booy. I first heard of this book from Bookfool awhile back and it's been on my wishlist ever since then. I can see now why she praised it so much. It's a simple book really, consisting of short stories focusing on people in love. In love with each other, in love with the past, in love with what could have or should have been. It shows despair next to happiness and is all told beautifully with the captivating prose of Van Booy. The atmosphere that he creates is just perfect in each story whether it's spring time in Paris or summer in New York. The best thing about these stories is the little ray of light that shines through even in the darkest stories, the light that is love. There's not much else to say about this one, but here are some favorite quotes to let the book speak for itself: "A woman in a wheelchair is being pushed across the bridge by her husband. They are in love. Only the back wheels move across each plank. He tilts the chair toward him as though his body is drinking from hers. I wish he could see her face. She clings to a small cloud of tissue. The look Eastern European. I can tell this because they are well dressed but their clothes are years out of style. I'd like to think this is their first time in Paris. I can imagine him later on, straining to lift her from the chair in their gray hotel room with its withering curtains swollen by wind. I can picture her in his arms. He will set her in the bed as though it were a slow river." "'Swing,' she said sadly, the hard blue of her eyes glistening. And so they swung for their lives, the end of the branch above like an old finger, cutting out a circle of dusk." "Anniversaries are sad and beauiful. Snow momentarily turns to rain." "I haven't said a word in twenty years, but there was a time when you wouldn't have been able to shut me up. I've lived so long without the pain of language. My life is a letter with no address." "Dreams are the unfinished wings of our souls." "I wanted to stretch into the ridge of her spine and complete her back, as water freezes in the crevice of a rock." "You might say that praying is useless if I don't believe in God anymore, but let me tell you my opinion: praying for someone is a way to love them without ever having to know them." "Night can unmoor so many feelings; it is a relief we sleep through it." "I think we keep these moments of rejection and acceptance very close. I think we carry them always, like cracked shells from which a part of us once hatched."

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