Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Best-Loved Books of 2008, #3: Favorite enjoyable sad novel

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The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer
(Bonus: super-nice author!)

This novel is the kind of classic tragic romance that immerses you in a beautiful fog, just like the San Francisco of Greer's 1953 story. It's as much about war as about love: about the consequences of opting out, as well as the conflict itself. Like Greer's masterpiece The Confessions of Max Tivoli, it keeps surprising you, with revelations like little explosions along the way. And Greer's power of language and emotional heft are literally second to none. Read this with caution-- you'll emerge as if from a black-and-white movie matinee, blinking in the light.

And here's a little book geek-out story: a few years ago I was working at Three Lives bookstore and writing reviews for Publishers Weekly for a little extra cash. One of the books that showed up at my door was The Confessions of Max Tivoli, and knowing nothing about it I fell utterly in love with the book and gave it a glowing review. Weeks or months later, the San Francisco based Greer walked into the bookstore, and I fangirled out: "You're Andrew Sean Greer! I loved your book! I reviewed it in PW!" To my delight, he responded with equal excitement: "You're that PW reviewer! I loved your review!" Our mutual admiration society established, we chatted occasionally throughout his brief stay in NYC, and when I ran into him (okay, stalked him) at BEA in Los Angeles, he still remembered me. Man, what a sweetie. You should buy his book 'cause he deserves it.