Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Visiting An Old Friend

Recently my daughter sent me a text message saying- " David Axelrod can't work for Obama, he'll burn the White House down!" I was puzzled until I remembered that Obama's campaign cheif bore the same name as the protagonist of one of my favorite books, Endless Love, by Scott Spencer. Endless Love is one of the many books that I visit regularly since the first time I read it many years ago. My introduction to this story of obsessive love came from my friend Eddie ( AKA "Fast Eddie") who walked into my apartment and declared " this is the best sentence ever written" and read me the opening words:

"When I was seventeen and in full obedience to my heart's most urgent commands, I stepped far from the pathway of normal life and in a moment's time ruined everything I loved-I loved so deeply, and when the love was interrupted, when the incorporeal body of love shrank back in terror and my own body was locked away, it was hard for others to believe that a life so new could suffer so irrevocably."

You gotta admit- that's a hell of a hook. So I am reading it again, after chuckling over the fact that there will be someone in the White House who has the same name as my favorite arsonist. And again I am struck with how intensely scarily beautiful it is. It's interesting to read a book about obsessive love from my perspective of an old married lady. Jade and David have the kind of affair, the kind of deep intimacy, that I think only the very young can have. There is something about being a kid and discovering sex and love together with someone for the very first time, that enables the kind of closeness that can only come when one is wandering into a new world with a companion who is just as lost as you are. The other thing I find fascinating now is the depiction of The Old Left vs. The New Left of the sixties and seventies. David's parents are communists and believe that one of the main problems with this decadent society is that people " pay too much attention to their emotions". David's obsession with his own emotional state is a nifty way to personalize what became the New Left's obsession with feelings and the realization, theoretically at least, that the personal and the political cannot be separated. Giving into the heat of strong emotion frequently results in the creation of literal flame. David burned down a house. The revolutionaries of my youth tried to burn down a system. This is still a great book. And did I mention that it is wonderfully dirty? Read it.
Or.... you could always watch this piece of absolute awesome instead:

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I don't know how I got to your blog, but I love it. The Burning Down the House video -- thank you so much for that! Truly like a visit from an old friend. Can't wait to read more.