meet Emma and Dexter

Well, I broke my own school-year rule -- no fun, fictional books when there are readings to be done -- and took One Day home on Friday afternoon.

Then, I literally spent two nights in a row reading until about 4 a.m. And I was not reading about the Christian-moral roots of our notions of communication. I was reading about Dexter and Emma, two people who share a (sort of) one-night stand in 1988, and the 20 years that follow this night.

I'm still sort of reeling from the book, to be honest. It's funny, it's disturbing.... It's epic -- yes, epic -- and I don't really know where to start without ruining anything for you. I should say, this is not When Harry Met Sally. This is.... two people you feel you know. Maybe two people you feel you've been.

Dexter, through much of the book, is literally like the douchiest person you've ever met. Take a moment, and think of that person -- someone you dated, shared a meal with, hated from across the classroom or office. Now, try to imagine that person does actually have the same misgivings and moments of self-doubt you do. Maybe he or she wants the same things you do, too, but manages to fall short because of some uncontrollable urge to be a douchebag. In a nutshell, this shrugging self-awareness is what allows you to love Dexter throughout the book.

Emma, meanwhile, is painfully funny and gracious and lovely. She's vulnerable and makes mistakes, and you just want to shake her at times, as though that would help her gain the confidence Dexter wants for her too. (A piece of writing from a note to Emma from Dexter: "You're gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.") Other times, you want to hug her, straight-up.

I can't really say enough wonderful things about David Nicholls, and his beautiful suck-you-in-and-spit-you-out writing. It's a funny, funny book -- something of a love story, but really more the story of two lives, of perceptions that change and friendships that drift but stay the same as well. It's enough to make me want to read his other work, which includes Starter for Ten. But I won't today. Because I have to do school work today, and for many days ahead.

No comments: