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Who do you love?

I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. It seems, more than most holidays, to be completely fabricated by the card manufacturers, florists and chocolatiers of the world as a shameless ploy to boost sales during that dreary season between Christmas and Easter. I’m not opposed to flowers or cards and  I’m wild about chocolate, so I don’t begrudge the day. I’m not bitter like some folks I know. I just don’t think we should make a great big deal about it. As you’ve likely guessed, I’m no hopeless romantic.

The same attitude informs my reading. I’m no fan of  traditional romances and I prefer my literature to contain a minimum of blush-inducing love scenes. I mean, it never even crossed my mind to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey. However, the day has me thinking about romance in literature and, really, it is everywhere. Romantic love plays a key role in literature from the Bible (Song of Solomon is practically steamy) to the works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Michael Ondaatje and Annie Proulx and Kazuo Ishiguro and on and on.

It makes sense. The early stages of romantic love leave most of us vulnerable, prone to rash declarations, jittery with fear and anticipation, and generally unguarded. The later stages lead to angst and questioning and, often, vague dissatisfaction. Romance is an excellent way to expose a character’s soft underbelly, to lend motivation to rash decisions. It makes even the sanest people temporarily mad. It often ends badly, even tragically. All of this makes for a good read.

So, I’m curious, what love stories move you? Which authors manage to capture the peculiar madness of romance without devolving into clichés or bad metaphor? Who do you love?


About Tiffany Quay Tyson

Tiffany Quay Tyson is a writer living in Denver, Colorado. She was born and raised in Mississippi. THREE RIVERS, her debut novel, was a Colorado Book Award finalist and a finalist for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for fiction. She is a 2016 Amtrak Resident. She is currently working on her second novel.

7 comments on “Who do you love?

  1. Terry Everett
    February 14, 2013

    Oh, Lord, Tiffany, you know my list, and you know it’s way too long to give here; so, I’ll just say thanks for your thoughtful post and your continuing presence in my life. The last line of Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane” says it for you and me, “neither father, nor lover,” but so happy you’re in the world. Love, Terry

    • tqtyson
      February 14, 2013

      Terry, that says it perfectly.

  2. heather
    February 14, 2013

    I am not a hearts and flowers woman either – i prefer my partner to be there for me the other 365 days a year with support and friendship, not just manufactured trimmings. Yet here is my answer to your “love stories” question:

    I will narrow it down to two classics which have touched my heart (one ends tragically and one ends beautifully). “Jane Eyre” as the first and best tale of what it means to truly love even after heartache, and “Anna Karenina” as the second which serves as a warning tale of what can happen when passions fade.

  3. David L.
    February 14, 2013

    I’m with Heather…celebrate love 365!
    For me, I appreciate love’s serendipity moments that turn our heads slightly enough to think something was just there. Playful.
    Wislawa Szymborska has fun with this in “Love at First Sight”:
    “Both are convinced
    that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together.
    Beautiful is such a certainty,
    but uncertainty is more beautiful…
    …They’d be greatly astonished
    to learn that for a long time
    chance had been playing with them…”

    Thanks for getting us thinking!!

  4. Ona Marae
    February 14, 2013

    Well, I am a romance reader, although of the lesbian variety for the most part. My favorite lesbian romance writer is Katherine V. Forrest and my favorite romance of hers is a sci-fi/speculative/romance titled “Daughters of a Coral Dawn” that came out in the 80’s. (yeah so i’m old!) It has two sequals written more recently, but the first one still curls my toes!

    February 15, 2013

    My latest love story to witness is my stepdad’s love as he takes care of my Mom who has Alzheimer’s. I am seeing a side of him that I had no idea ever existed.

  6. Anne Eston
    February 18, 2013

    All of my fave love stories are full of all those bad things. I think we all gravitate towards that just like we eat potato chips and ice cream and Twinkies—it just feels good to indulge in something “bad.” I also gravitate more towards movies for love stories than books (Love Actually, Franco Zefirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, Ladyhawke, Ivanhoe, The Thorn Birds). But there is a tasty little chick lit “love” story that I thoroughly enjoyed: Cassandra French’s Finishing School for Boys. I’m sure there are others, I’m just not connecting with any of them at the moment.

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This entry was posted on February 14, 2013 by in Good Books, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , .

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