Friday, June 08, 2007

Boys and Girls

FINISHED: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
PREPARING TO LAUNCH: A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
ON THE SIDE: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes/Evening by Susan Minot

Yes, the 'F' author has been selected, although not yet begun. Don Quixote is this year's mammoth book of choice, and how appropriate to begin it now as this weekend marks exactly one year since I left Korea and finished War and Peace on a plane somewhere over the Pacific. But first I have a parting Rose thought.

So, I've been having an argument a discussion about Adso's Kitchen Encounter. Which is to say, he is tempted/seduced/blown away/doesn't really know what's going on by beautiful peasant woman whom Salvatore brings into the abbey, and so despite his vow of chastity he gets to experience this act some monks never experience, and is even promptly forgiven by William the next day. (There's more to it than that of course, but that's not my point here.) So the argument discussion is about whether the whole ideal of an enlightening One Romantic Encounter is male fantasy crap that never happens in real life.

I was saying, how could Adso be so enlightened and wowed by ONE time? That never happens. Needless to say -- or is it? -- I was having this discussion with a male. And as I think about it, I think perhaps my notion that it is "male fantasty b.s." might be wrong. Maybe it's male reality b.s. I mean, there are differences and then there are differences but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that across the board men are more fulfilled by their initial sexual experience than woman ever are. Without exception.

So, this is interesting and probably old news, but what's newly interesting to me is that I'm currently sort of reading Evening, because the previews for the upcoming film have me greatly intrigued, mostly because I (only half-jokingly) refer to it as "the sequel to The Hours," as I've previously mentioned. So even though I don't want to buy it, I read a chapter or two of it every time I am in a bookstore (which is almost every day) and I'm about halfway through it. And the basic plot is that this woman on her deathbed deliriously recalls a life-changing night back in the day that she has never forgotten, although as she lies there murmuring this man's name all her gathered family members are like, "Who? Who's that guy, Mom?"

The story is told flashing back and forth among various time periods, so I haven't yet reached the climactic moment in the far past. That is to say, they have met and strolled together under the stars but haven't yet had the life-altering One Romantic Encounter, although by all indications they will. And it leaves me thinking -- hmm, this book is by a woman. And it's the woman who is, apparently, altered in this particular story. So, is it that we've been so pummeled by the male fantasy over the years, especially in movies I'd say, that women have bought into it, too?

Ah, but then I forget about romance novels. Mostly because I've never read one. But I have shelved a lot of them, and it sure seems that a lot of women in there can have amazing, mind-blowing One Romantic Encounters as well.

Anyway, I just think it's interesting. I'm really not bothered by it at all. This isn't some call to feminist arms, and it wasn't a particularly heated discussion about Adso. I just think it's interesting that as soon as I tried to determine that Adso's experience was an implausible male fantasy, I picked up Evening and then thought, "Oh. Or not."

No comments: