Book-shelves are not medicine cabinets. When you visit someone, it is OK to peek at the contents of their book-shelves. Maybe even borrow some of the contents, for the period of your stay.
So there I was last week, trying to see whether any of the contents of my hosts' shelves looked interesting. Some I had read, and wasn't keen on re-reading. Some were just not my type. There was one though that felt (for a lazy day under the Texas sun), good enough for a rerun. It was Erich Segal's short 1970 bestseller Love Story. [Don't mock me yet]. I had read the book a few times in the early '90s. And each of the previous times, I cried like a baby at the end of the book. [OK, you can go ahead and mock me now]. Many years have passed since, and I thought, maybe I should see how I react to the book after all this time.
First, I was struck by something I had clean forgotten. The book has a great set of opening lines.
What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.
Simple, direct, short. One doesn't read novels like this any more - which is a pity, but not all bad.
The second, more disconcerting thing was that the character I found myself most empathetic to wasn't Jenny. Or Oliver. It was the dad guy. The super rich, somewhat stuck-up father unable to reach his son emotionally. That's the guy I liked. I didn't like it that I liked him. But I did. So kill me.
Segal was clearly in a zone when he was writing this book. Because even though I had read the book multiple times, even though the very first line in the book gives the ending away, I still found myself rooting for the couple throughout the book. Wishing that Jenny would make it. Which is kinda cool, or really forgetful.
The true cynicism test lay ahead. Was it going to be dry eyes or Niagara bawls? 'Shit happens' or 'Why?'.
Let me just say this. Minutes after finishing the book, I was on Yahoo finance to see what the market did.
Save me somebody, I am dead inside.