Tag Archives: marriage

Bizzaro Book Review: Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross

Guys, you know that thing where you ask your wife, “What’s wrong honey?” and your wife says, “Nothing” but what she really means is, “You are in trouble, but I am not going to tell you why, so there“? This book is about that.

Yes. You heard me right. If you are a married man, this is the most terrifying book you will read. EVER.

Mr. Peanut is about marriage and murder, and the contempt bred by familiarity that bridges the gap between the two. The narrative follows three sets of marriages which are intertwined in such a way as to make them into a literal literary Möbius strip.

If that sounds confusing to you, then trust me, it is. Quentin Tarantino could learn a thing or two about non-linear storytelling from Adam Ross. The strange and twisted tales of three men and their wives overlap in ways that are not immediately apparent.

The story in a nutshell (heh heh) is this: David Peppin is accused of murdering his wife, and two detectives must sort through the dizzying threads of his story to determine whether he is really the killer.

But far from being a straightforward murder mystery, this story delves deep into the dark side of marriage, bringing to light the pain, joy, and ultimate boredom that can arise out of spending so many years of your life with the same person.

The greatest problem that this book faces is that it incredibly clever. This might seem like a strange thing to criticize, especially for the guy who absolutely adores House of Leaves, but the problem here is that the cleverness overtakes the flow of the story. The disjointed non-linear narrative is fine to a point, but when the book drops one narrative thread which had previously been the driving force of the book and jumps into another almost completely unrelated story for the space of more than a hundred pages, it’s somewhat disorienting and discouraging to the reader.  I understand that the jump was necessary to complete the books unique Möbius strip structure, but in my mind the novelty of that structure was not enough to justify the sacrifices made to the story’s forward momentum.

Having said that, this book is still a fantastic read, quite unlike anything else I’ve ever reviewed here before. In spite of its occasional failings it triumphs as a treatise on marriage, infidelity, love and redemption. If you’re looking for a book that will grab your mind and suck you into its twisted world, look no further. Adam Ross’s Mr. Peanut has got what you need.

The Truth about True Love

When I was growing up I heard a lot about this concept of “True Love.” It was everywhere, in movies, in books, practically smothering me with it’s syrupy goodness. As near as I could tell, True Love was a perfect idealized love that existed in and of itself, a thing wholly perfect, without beginning and without end.

But about two and a half years ago, I got married to the woman of my dreams. Before I met my wife I never believed in the idea of “the one.” I just thought people looked around until they found the best possible match for them and settled for that. I never in a million years would have believed that fate or destiny played a role in any of it.

But all that changed when I met my wife. She was…perfect. Well, maybe not perfect exactly, but perfect for me. We could sit and talk for hours on end and feel like only a few minutes had passed. I knew I had found my soul mate. So I asked her to marry me.

And now after two wonderful years of being married to my soul mate I’m here to tell you that I’ve yet to spot that mythical beast named True Love. But that’s okay, because I’ve found something better. Something real. Something I like to call Real Love. And this is what it looks like.

Real Love is hard work. In a way, it’s like tending a garden: it’s something that must constantly be nurtured day in and day out, and it isn’t always fun. You have to water it and feed it and weed it out on a daily basis. It’s not a glamorous job, but the fruits are always worth the work.

Real love is boring. You know that fireworks romance stuff you see in the movies? Yeah, turns out you can’t believe everything you see in the movies. Who knew? Real love, if it is going to last, has to become a routine. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be moments of fire and passion, but on the whole it’s about staying consistent every day, no matter what happens.

Real love is not about feelings. Because, let me tell you something, if you are in a relationship for the long term there will come times when you won’t have that warm and bubbly feeling in your heart. But real love keeps going even when it doesn’t feel like it. Emotions are flexible, they change like the wind. Real love is stronger than that. Real love is a decision.

Real love is every day. Ever heard of Happily Ever After? Well guess what, turns out that’s fiction too. There’s no magical sunset you can ride off into where all your troubles will be over. You have to keep going, keep working, keep doing everything you can to shore up your love against all the storms that will come and try to tear it apart. Real Love it never done till you’re dead.

Real love is forgiving. Because, let’s face it, there are going to be some fights. And that’s okay to a point. People disagree. It’s one of the things we do best. And sometimes people screw up. I’ve given my wife plenty of legitimate reasons to be angry with me over the years. The key isn’t in never having a fight. The key to real love is being able to work out your differences and imperfections.

Real love takes sacrifice. It might seem like a nice idea to have a love that magically springs up from the depths of the heart and is ever impacted the realities of life. But the truth is that kind of love, if it existed, wouldn’t be worth anything. Because it wouldn’t cost anything. And real love always costs something.

So yeah, maybe Real Love isn’t the wonderful and perfect ideal maybe you’ve been told about all your life, but that’s okay. Because Real Love is…real. For all of it’s flaws and imperfections it means something. And for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t give it up for all the True Love in the world.

The Digital Dependency

Yesterday I read a great post by Jody Hedlund talking about how social media can suck up way too much of your time. It was weird that she posted it when she did, because that was exactly the time I needed a wake up call.

I’ve got some problems.  See, I like twitter. Like a lot. I’ve got it running on my computer pretty much non-stop, and if I’m away from the big screen it’s always there on my cellphone. I’ve caught myself checking tweets at work, while shopping, even in traffic. And the worst part of it all is that I’m letting it start to encroach on my marriage. My wife and I will be eating dinner together, and while she’s telling me about her day I’m on the phone checking the latest update from wherever.

I’m becoming a caricature. My life is like a live action Windows phone commercial. If I sound like I’ve been a great big jerk, it’s only because it’s true. And it has to stop.

The solution isn’t to get a better phone. The solution is to act like an adult and exercise some self control.

So here goes. It’s not New Year’s but I’m making some resolutions anyway, because I need them. I need to remember what is important in my life.

1. I will leave my phone beyond my reach when me and my wife are spending time together. If we are out and about, and I have my phone in my pocket I will kill all my wonderful little apps and leave them killed until our time together is over.

2. I will do my best to listen to my wife and support her when she is having emotional issues. I will not let myself be distracted by trivialities. If she is talking I will turn the radio off and listen only to her.

3. I will never let her feel less important than anything else in my life.

I need to get some things straight. I still want to connect and grow my network as a writer, but I have to remember that nothing is more important than my marriage.

How about the rest of you? Does twitter take up more time than you’d like to admit? Do you find it overtaking things that should be more important? Or maybe you’d like to tell my what a great big jerk I am. Leave a comment and let me know.

The Write Way to Love

It seems like every year I learn a little more about what it takes to be a successful writer.   You’d think they could put all this information into  a book somewhere, and for all I know, maybe someone already has. But for me some things have to be learned gradually.  And some things, no matter how often you explain them to me, I have to learn for myself.

I remember how badly this phenomenon used to frustrate my dad.  I come home and share some bit of newly minted wisdom with him, and he’d say, “I’ve been telling you that for your whole life.”  And he had.  But on some level hearing it wasn’t enough.  I needed to figure it out for myself.

That last bit was a tangent which I’m leaving in, because frankly I love talking about my dad.  In fact, in most of my fiction you’ll find a father figure that make some tremendous impact on the story for either good or bad, or even through his absence.  I think this is a reflection of the impact I feel my dad has had on my life.  And now we’re in another tangent.  So, back to the point.

What I wanted to talk about was the realization I had just a few weeks ago, that if I wanted to succeed as a writer, I was going to have to start treating my writing like a second job.  Now please don’t read that and think I’m trying to remove all of the fun from writing, because I’m not.  I write because I love it, and I believe I always will.  But sometimes I don’t feel like I love it.  Some times I’ll sit in front of a blank screen, and say, “Nope, not happening today,” and in the past I would get up and walk away.  But you can’t get up and walk away from your job.

Kristen Lamb said something fantastic in her recent blog about reaching your potential in the new year.  She said, “Feelings, LIE.”

There are times when all of us are not going to feel like writing.  The solution?

Write anyway.

Give yourself a small goal to accomplish.  Say, “I’ll just write two hundred words, and if things don’t get better by then, then I’ll come back to it later.”  More often than not, by the time two hundred words have planted themselves on the page, you’ll feel the creative juices flowing a little better.

But today’s blog isn’t really about writing at all.  See, I’ve been getting all gung-ho about this new philosophy of writing: getting up far too early in the morning, spending hours writing blog posts, and overall just getting serious about the whole thing.  So yesterday, when my wife asked if I wanted to go and do something with her, there was a split second where I thought, “But I have so much work to do on my writing.”

Except then it hit me.  Writing isn’t the only job I have to do.  I also have to be a husband.  And just like writing, sometimes I don’t feel like being a husband.  Sometimes I’ll stop and think, “What happened to that gurgley sweet feeling I had back when we were dating?  Am I doing something wrong?  Did I make a mistake?”

But love is like writing.  It may be fueled by passion, but it is perfected by hard work.  And just because I may not feel the passion every moment of the day doesn’t give me an excuse to stop working to be a better husband.  The relationship between me and my wife needs care and attention and most of all, time if it’s going to be successful.

Because feelings do lie.  And marriage, just like writing, is a job.  If I don’t feel like being married today, it shouldn’t matter.  Because this is my job.  And at it’s very foundation, love isn’t just a feeling.  It’s a commitment.

So if I’m tired or cranky and just don’t feel like doing the work to make it work, I’m going to remind myself that this is my commitment.  This is my job.

Otherwise I’ll just end up being the marital version of a bad fan fiction writer.