But all is not lost. Happily, reports from the frontlines can be found in Love Is a Four-Letter-Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts, which reassures us that we are not alone in nursing our wounds. And if time does not heal all, it sure lends perspective and perhaps laughter.
As Neal Pollack writes in the introduction to this lively anthology edited by Michael Taeckens: “It’s always nice to know that no matter how badly you’ve screwed up your love life, someone else has done far, far worse.”
Chances are you’ve never attacked hotel decor, as does Junot Diaz in the opening essay, “Homecoming, with Turtle.” Let’s hope you’ve never had to hike up a mountain in the rain with a know-it-all who then pushed you down to find your own way back, which is what Amanda Stern recounts in harrowing detail in “Scout’s Honor.” Please tell me that only George Singleton could have peed in a cat’s litter box. Talk about “Marking Territory.”
But then there are those phone calls that never came, those e-mails you wish you’d never sent, the suspicious questions and lame excuses, the three words that when uttered aloud spelled certain doom. Kate Christensen, in “Shadow Dancing”, remembers being “heady with sexual power for the first time” as a young teen when she falls for an older guy, but when all comes to naught, she spends hours writing in her journal and listening to Tapestry on an eight-track. Yep, been there, done that.
These stories, by turn, are funny, sad, bitter, sweet, brave, touching and true. Kinda like love.
Open Book: I know Michael Taeckens and have met several of the contributors of Love is A Four-Letter Word (Plume). I bought my copy.