Thursday, September 27, 2007

Miriam Goderich's breakup books

My stepdaughter was recently going through a bad breakup with her boyfriend and in need of solace. The usual clich├ęs and verbal palliatives weren’t having much effect and I was trying to come up with things she could do to take her mind off the creep as well as support my contention that we’d all been there and most of us recover fully (which, by the way, she didn’t believe at all).

We’d already gone through the sad music (Nick Drake, anyone) and depressing movies catalogues and I decided to dip into my “necessary books” list to see if I could pull together 10 titles that would do the trick. As all bookworms know, there’s nothing like the comfort to be found in the pages of a book. The list I finally came up with allows for a certain amount of wallowing, but mostly it’s meant to inspire – ‘cause what’s more inspirational than turning pain into art:

1. CHERI and THE LAST OF CHERI by Colette. The French do bittersweet love affairs better than anyone else (also see Charles Aznavour).

2. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway. You wouldn’t think the macho writer could make doomed love so heartbreakingly tender.

3. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Makes you cry, laugh and hope. Oh, and the prose is worth a Nobel Prize.

4. WRITING A WOMAN’S LIFE by Carolyn Heilbrun. Empowerment for when you’re ready to stop dating idiots.

5. FIRST LOVE AND OTHER SORROWS by Harold Brodkey. Hmmm, the title says it all.

6. LAUGHABLE LOVES by Milan Kundera. Because every doomed love affair has great reserves of irony and humor (even though you may not get either for a couple of decades).

7. BELOVED INFIDEL by Sheilah Graham. After reading what she went through with F. Scott, you’ll be thinking your own life’s not so bad.

8. THE FEAST OF LOVE by Charles Baxter. Because he writes so beautifully about the tiny, luminous moments that make up being human and alive.

9. THE SHIPPING NEWS by E. Annie Proulx. There’s always a second act.

10. CONSIDER THE OYSTER by M.F. K. Fisher. For when you’re ready to get off the couch and reclaim your mojo.

What are your favorite breakup books?