I haven’t read an entire book in months. Generally a voracious reader, my energies have been focused on journaling, writing, painting, and creating. My attention span for absorbing new material has been limited to five minute clips on YouTube and four-hundred word count blogs of friends. This weekend I set on a mission to start reading one of the many books I bought from a library book sale (notice I bought from the library instead of borrowing, knowing that my procrastination would exceed the renewal allotment). So, I started with something simple… “The Rescue” by Nicholas Sparks. Now, I read “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook,” following a viewing of the cinematic adaptations. I can’t say I ever enjoyed his writer’s voice, particularly when the South offers a bevy of incredible writers like Pat Conroy, Styron, Flannery O’Conner and Harper Lee. Sparks is more along the lines of mediocrity that just got lucky. I wonder if only the word count and good choice in a literary agent distinguish his books from trashy Harlequin romances.
Now, “The Notebook” I could digest and appreciate, perhaps because of the generational span of the characters and how unrelatable it felt while reading it (which contributed to a significant dip in cyncism). My problem with “The Rescue,” aside from the title (applied to the woman protagonist and her son who are “rescued” from this heroic, emotionally wounded man), is that Sparks turns anything realistic into sappy bullshit. His female protagonist is a poverty-stricken woman who relocates to a small town to support her linguistically-challenged kid because the investment-banking sperm donor refuses to help out and is too busy dealing with his FIANCE in New York. Wow, now what single female in Manhattan doesn’t have experience with an unfaithful bloke on Wall St.? Next, she and her kid are rescued by this local fireman, who eventually falls in love and is the guy of her dreams and just when things are going well… guess what happens? Don’t think too hard. He becomes emotionally unavailable! Yes, he pushes her away, heads straight into a sea of denial, and realizes that at the age of 36 he has NO idea who he is. Wow. That’s original. Even better yet- the reason for all of his emotional problems? Oh it traces back to his daddy and being a little boy. Once again, how breath-takingly fresh. This man tries to be the hero to simply masquerade all the hidden pain and suppressed anxiety from thirty years ago.
Now the heroine chick, I can admire her because she dumps him and is strong enough to realize that he is not right for her or her challenged kid. But all it takes is one big crying fest about his past, and him pleading how much he loves her before she takes him back (wow, once again… HOW many times has this happened to me or to one of my smart, savvy, emotionally-deep female friends). Unlike the real world, however, the final ten pages of “The Rescue” tie everything up in a beautiful little package. See, they get married and appreciate the SIMPLE life, and her lifelong dream of being a wife and mother are realized (what year does this book take place? Nope, it’s not 1960. It’s 2000!). Of course, she gives birth to his son (because that just perpetuates all this psychological, macho bullshit), and her sons can grow up and be wounded heros who cannot save themselve just like their daddies and granddaddies. I personally wish that after dumping his ass, she moved back to Atlanta (or better yet, found a new start in Savannah, a much prettier town), threatened the investment banking sperm donor for hordes of money, and then founded a shelter for single mothers who have been run through the gates of hell by emotionally-unstable, spiritually-unconscious men.
I’ve learned a few lessons from this : 1. I’d rather re-read something by Pat Conroy, who knows how to delve into TRUE dysfunction and doesn’t turn his female protagonists into matrons at the ripe old age of 28. 2. Reading these books, no matter how much I resist, brings out some kind of “readying the nest” syndrome, as I have a pot of homemade chili stewing on the stove right now. 3. Thanks to writers like this fool, women like me and pre-teens who digest literary (is this literature? strike that)…. girls who read books that are on the bestseller’s list, fall into the trap of this happy-ending, a woman-can-really-save-a-man-who-can’t-save-himself-nonsense if she’s strong and compassionate and gives him a second chance when he’s “ready”. Whatever.
Thanks to Sparks I have enough chili to get through the next two weeks, and quell the fears of everyone that I don’t eat enough and I’m too thin. And thanks to him I’m back into the mood to read some more… and not pussyfoot around with paperback, best-selling sob stories. But what do I know? According to the Barnes and Noble site, where I stole the image for this blog, the book got 4-and-a-half stars. Guess I’m not in touch with the heartbeat of America, but if anyone wants this lousy book, pay for shipping and it’s yours.