"When a person is loved, they are granted the strength of all seas."

30 January 2014

It took me longer than expected to finish reading Simon Van Booy's The Secret Lives of People in Love not because I found it boring but because I found it too mesmerizing that I couldn't help but reread some paragraphs over and over.

The Secret Lives of People in Love is a collection of 18 short stories that deal with, what else, love. Van Booy is very generous with metaphors without going over the top that will make you roll your eyes. Each story is so lyrical, so beautifully written that I found myself seriously doubting my writing ability. Case in point: I have been sitting here for more than two hours trying to compose a decent review but here I am, grasping at straws, at a loss for words.

So beautiful that I imagined myself being serenaded to sleep with these stories.

Some groups of sentences felt a bit disjointed at first but I got used to it after a while. Van Booy has created beautiful stories with memorable characters and rich imagery, if only most of them didn't have to tell about lost love. It felt a tad too pessimistic that it made me question if love should always automatically be followed by loss, until I remembered what used to be my mantra when I was dealing with heartbreak: "Without the bitter, the sweet isn't as sweet." 

Why should love hurt?

Still, even with that unanswered question, I know these stories will stay with me long after today. My favorite is probably Where They Hide is a Mystery.
Although the stars appeared to be close, they were millions of miles away. 
"The light from the stars takes so long to reach us that sometimes a star will have expired by the time we can see it," the Indian man said. 
"Some of these stars are dead?" 
"Nothing dies in the way that we think, Edgar," the Indian man said. "Perhaps what really matters is that they are so beautiful, whether they are still awake or not."
Sigh, it's amazing how much emotions a string of words can stir in me.

I like collecting and reading anthologies because I feel like you get a lot more from a single book. If the stories were all written by the same author, then his/ her "voice" becomes more apparent. Even with sad stories dominating The Secret Lives of People in Love, Simon Van Booy's voice resonates very well with me, and I am looking forward to reading his other works.

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