Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Much Ado About Loving: What Our Favorite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, Not-So-Great Gatsbys, and Love in the Time of Internet Personals
By Jack Murnigham and Maura Kelly
New York, Free Press, 2012
202 pages Non-Fiction
Here’s a clever premise for a book: Advice for the lovelorn from the pages of classic literature. Through many short chapters in Much Ado About Loving, Jack Murnigham and Maura Kelly discuss the failings and the graces (but mostly the failings) of main characters in novels that most of us have read.
Frankly, I am ashamed to say that I have not read many of the classic novels; never spent a month reading War and Peace, and outside of A Christmas Carol, I haven’t read any Charles Dickens. I won’t tell you that I have read no Bronte or Tolstoy. Lucky for me, Murnigham and Kelly discuss a bunch of books I have read, like The Bell Jar, Revolutionary Road, A Farewell to Arms, and The Great Gatsby.
Much Ado About Loving is a very witty book. The chapter titles are perhaps the most clever part of the entire project, but the advice is sound if you are a person who is on the hunt for your true love and you aren’t having any luck. As Murnigham says, “It is a uniquely human gift to see reality for something that it isn’t, to take the life in front of us and perceive it instead into a shape we want it to be.”
Murnigham and Kelly tell stories from their own life experiences to illustrate the dilemmas posited by the literary characters. When I was trying to decide who might benefit from this book, I realized that it might be good not only for the lovelorn, but also for college students having to pick an angle to write a term project about in their English Lit classes. There’s an essay about Darcy just waiting to be written or the “not so great” Gatsby.
This is a fun read, not so much for the love advice, but for the reminders of the classic books we once read or didn’t read. Clever, clever, clever!
A brief review in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/books/review/inside-the-list.html?_r=1
An interview with Maura Kelly in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/teddy-wayne/interview-with-maura-kell_b_1179656.html
Today's Salon.com (Feb. 14) has some clever advice to the lovelorn by Murnigham and Kelly: http://www.salon.com/writer/jack_murnighan/