Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Republic of Love

Is there anything less romantic than -20° Edmonton in mid-February? How about Winnipeg? But Carol Shields wrote a delightful novel, The Republic of Love, about finding love in middle-age, in frozen Winnipeg. Fay and Tom are likable people, she a folklorist, he a talk show host, both unlucky in love. They meet and sparks fly, but can romantic love conquer rationality in these workaday times?

Canadian film-maker Deepa Mehta, of Water fame, adapted the novel into a 2003 film that starring Bruce Greenwood. Unfortunately Mehta changed the setting to Toronto and filmed there. I haven't seen the film but reviews tend to feature the word "underwhelming." A classic "the book was better" situation I think.

Where is the the Great Edmonton love story? Or St. Albert! There was Lynne Van Luven's witty essay, "City of My Groin" in the Edmonton centennial collection, Edmonton on Location (about her adventures in Garneau in the 1980s). But this doesn't count. Neither does Robert Kroetsch's The Studhorse Man! Or Brad Fraser's play, Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love. Please leave a comment if something comes to mind...

Here are some books about love, set in non-Edmonton places, that won’t rot your teeth with sweetness:

Love Walked In By Marisa de los Santos
A warm and witty love story about three people: thirtysomething coffee shop manager Cornelia, charming, divorced Dad Martin and his eleven-year old daughter Clare. This sweet story about knowing what you love and why is being adapted into a film, produced by and starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Check out the author's website for some her suggestions of love songs.

The History of Love By Nicole Krauss
A complex, brilliant novel about love and loss in which two compelling stories, past and present, merge. New Yorker Leo Gursky is an old man, tapping his radiator each evening to let his neighbour know he's still alive. But sixty years ago in Poland, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. Leo doesn't know it, but his book survived, crossing oceans and changing lives.

** Cool romantic factoid: Nicole Krauss is married to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. Some have even grumped about similarities between The History of Love and Foer's novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I suspect it is more a matter of jealousy. It is easy to resent young, pretty, talented, successful writers living the life in writer-saturated Brooklyn.

My Wedding Dress Edited by Susan Whelehan & Anne L. Carter
A collection of personal essays by Canadian women writers in the tradition of Dropped Threads. Contributors, including Anita Rau Badami, Ami McKay, Edeet Ravel and Kerri Sakamoto, write movingly about the emotional baggage associated with “my wedding dress”.

2 Comments:

Blogger Christopher said...

To say the movie was a disappointment would be putting it mildly, to put it mildly. What is Edmonton's great love story? Maybe it's not written down yet; maybe we have to work through our mythology for a few more decades before we stumble into it. I'm trying though, I really am. I'll get reading, too.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Libarbarian said...

Are you planning to fill the void by creating Edmonton's great love story yourself? I salute you. Perhaps I'll try that myself (Casanova was a librarian after all).

I forgot to mention Todd Babiak. He talks about Edmonton's non-mythology in The Garneau Block. And he's got a bit of romance in there too. Fred Stenson's The Trade puts some mythological flesh on some early Edmonton characters, as well a love story or two.

2:12 PM  

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