Friday, December 12, 2008

Books and Marriage

Recently the New York Times prompted a series of thoughts that became incredibly telling of my marriage. The article appeared in the Sunday Book Review, one of the 4 sections of the NY Times that I religiously read every week. It discussed how the trajectory of a relationship can be plotted based on the books that the individuals in the relationship have read. I couldn’t agree more. I can tell a lot about a person based on their favorite author or book. It certainly happened to me with my husband.

As the article states, men just don’t read as much fiction as women. I’m not sure why this happens but at least I wasn’t just theorizing into oblivion as I am wont to do. So if a man reads at all, you have to wonder what his favorite says about him.

My husband, like most men, doesn’t read much. When our cable service got turned off a couple of years ago, he had an existential crisis. What was he going to do with all the time he gained from not vegetating in front of the tv? He was going to take up a hobby. I kept suggesting he read a book because that’s what I was looking forward to without the damn tv distraction. But no, he wallowed in his boredom and decided he needed to fix things that were not broken. Somehow he made it out alive from the land whence the cable no longer worketh. I was disappointed that the cable hiatus wasn’t longer. Oh well.

On a very rare occasion, my husband actually does read. I’ve caught him reading on vacation and I even took pictures because I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it again. I’ve framed it too since I thought it was money well spent. And when I ask him what his favorite book is he says “A Thousand Years of Solitude”. Intrigued by this propaganda, I finally read the book for the first time last year. I can’t say I was in the right frame of mind to appreciate the book. But it certainly did give light to the person my husband is.

Marquez is often associated with Magic Realism and that describes my husband to a tee. His reality is closer to the land of Harry Houdini than to the everyday that I face. Also, Marquez uses a lot of flowery language and speaks in metaphors without getting to the point. This is exactly what my husband does. A lot of people say it’s because English is not his native language so he doesn’t know how to express himself. I don’t think it’s that at all. I think it’s that he talks in circles without ever getting to the point and unless I’m speaking Marquezisms or Memoisms, no one can understand a single damn word he’s saying. My ‘Thousand Days of Pain’, as I called this exercise, showed me where my husband’s circuitous language was created. It’s cultural. (Granted, my penchant for exaggeration and sarcasm comes from my Italian background but we aren’t talking about me, we are talking about him.) And if I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have made it this so far in our relationship….Forgive me Marquez for not entirely loving your work but maybe it’s cultural for me too.

However, if it’s any consolation, I did get even in my own cultural way. I made him watch ‘MacBeth’. I adore the Bard because I find his characters and the psychology behind them so mesmerizing. But my husband doesn’t understand him…so how do I get even? I make him sit through a 3 hour production while I take joy in the pain he’s going through trying to understand what the actors are saying. I even caught him nodding off…I wonder if he had any clue what I was trying to do - probably not because my method was very direct and he’s all about the flowery indirect language.

1 comment:

M said...

I think you are being too hard on Marquez. I ADORED "A hundred years of solitude"--could not put it down. I didn't enjoy "Love in the time of Cholera" as much, but "Solitude" I loved. I do think you're onto something with the flowery language and the mysticism being cultural though. And yes, a man who reads books is, unfortunately, a rareity nowadays. Perhaps that's why I'm still single....