Saturday, June 9, 2012

The end is rarely happy, and at this point, it is still obscure

The character of Lenny, Ben's father in Apart From Love, is an obscure one. We see him through his son's eyes, and through the eyes of his mistress-turned-wife, Anita, who thinks him a 'keeper of secrets'. Both of them are intrigued by him, but do not fully understand his motives until the end. So without giving away any spoilers, here is an excerpt from a pivotal conversation between father and son, where Lenny starts talking about his aspirations as a writer:

“I so wish,” he says, “I could find the words. You know, I hoped to become a writer, when I was your age. I used to think I had it in me.” 
To which I say, “It should come easy for you. You are so good with words.”
His smile is rather brief.
“No, not really,” he says. “Ask Anita. For the life of her, she cannot string together more than two syllables in a word—but if she could, she would tell you how devastating, even excruciatingly painful it is to read, or even just listen to my book.”
“Book? You’re writing a book now?”
“Yes; didn’t I mention it?”
“No, you did not,” I say indignantly. “Not to me, anyway.”
Which he tries to shrug off. “Anita cannot bear listening to it. She has a reluctant admiration, I think, for the fact that I keep at it with such patience, such dedication, even, keep crafting something which is so incredibly protracted, and in her mind, pointless. Somehow, I have managed to bore her to tears. Too fragmented. Too many words.”
“I guess you do not care to entertain her,” I taunt him.
“Exactly,” he says. “I do not aim to bring her to a quick climax, or to satisfy her with a happy end, either, because for me, the end—the end is rarely happy, and at this point, it is still obscure.”

If by now you have started to suspect that I am letting Lenny 'borrow' some of my musings about the art of writing, I would have to admit that there is something to it, perhaps more than just something... Some writers aim to entertain you, some to arouse, others to take you places. Here, in the words that Lenny stole from me, is his deepest intention, which in its core, is mine:

“What I wish to open up is not me, but my characters—all of whom are parts of who I am—giving her the opportunity to know them, to come live in their skin, to see, hear, touch everything they do. Just, be there, inside my head for a while, which I admit, may be rather uneasy at times. If—if she cared to listen, which I doubt, she would allow me to pull her inside—so deep, so close to the core, that it would be hard to escape, hard to wake up.”

★ Love reading? Treat yourself to a family saga ★

"So much more could be said about the manner in which the author brings understanding to the hierarchies of relationships - parental, couple, aging, developing, and ones influenced by disease, but that would be robbing the reader of the joy of discoveries"


  1. Excellent. Now I can't postpone reading it Grrrr! Now I must know more!