Why does a sentient human being who reads lots and lots of book reviews plunk down $25 for a book that she’s pretty sure she’s not going to like?
Because I had to find out what happened to Corinne and Russell Calloway. Duh.
I’m very fond of BRIGHTNESS FALLS, Jay McInerney’s attempt to — in his paraphrased words, but I think I’m pretty close — do the BONFIRE OF VANITIES but with heart. (Isn’t that like making a gin martini, but with chocolate? Which is JUST WRONG, by the way. Frankly, I don’t even approve of vodka martinis and would normally not put “gin” in front of “martini” but there are some inexperienced types in these parts.) Anyway, a good book, his best of those I’ve read. (BRIGHT LIGHTS, STORY OF MY LIFE LIFE, LAST OF THE SAVAGES.) So, despite the meh reviews for the BF sequel, THE GOOD LIFE, and my own yawning indifference to its plot (not 9-11, but the passionate extramarital affair justified by the fact that the other spouses cheated first, but Corinne and Luke’s cheating is so spiritual and metaphysical, so post 9-11, while their respective spouses cheated pre-9-11)*, I bought it and read it en route to Phoenix. Because I wanted to know what happened to Corinne and Russell and even their friend, Washington. Heck, I’d like to know what happened to the rapacious M&A girl who screwed up the Callloway marriage the first time around.
I realize this is silly. They are not real people. But I’m a sucker for characters. Larry McMurty has broken my heart many times over, revisiting characters from previous books (Danny Deck! Jill! Harmony!) with less-than-spectacular results. Yet when I know there are sequels to books that I’ve read and enjoyed, almost no review in the world can keep me away. If Herman Wouk, who’s still writing, ever wants to write about Marjorie Morningstar’s daughter, I’m there. If Alexander Portnoy checks in, I’m so there. I’d even be up for a Rabbit resurrection.
Anyone else out there forming irrational attachments to literary characters? (Books that are intended to be a series, such as mine, don’t count. I’m talking about the non-series character who sometimes recur.) Did you try Ruth Plumly Thompson’s version of the Oz stories? Do you read the Mitchell-estate authorized continuation of GONE WITH THE WIND? Confess all.
*I’m not saying I’m a puritan who can’t warm up to a good story about adultery. I’m saying THE GOOD LIFE would be far more interesting if Corinne and Luke didn’t have such convenient rationalizations for their affair. Two soup kitchen volunteers swept into an affair while their basically good/kind spouses go about their lives. Now THAT would be interesting.