Saturday, April 6, 2013

Re-read: Curves of Pursuit

This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets   

I first read this novel in 1984. My father had picked it from the new fiction shelf at the library, said I might like it too. Told in the first person, it's nominally about two brothers, and whom they've loved, and try to love; and how they want to be loved back. It's gently written, with no gratuitous sex, or violence, or vulgarity; and not even a plot in any conventional sense. Regardless, as an unmarried 27-year-old, I was struck by the brothers' sense of masculine helplessness in the face of their disintegrating marriages. Both wives have moved out after, oh, 5 years or so, and neither brother has a clue as to any ameliorative action they might take. They're intelligent, reflective (you know, for guys), and they want to stay married to their wives. But life is a mystery, often frustrating and sad; and not every problem is fixable.

The main lesson I drew in 1984 was: marry the right woman. Four years later, I did just that.

I have regularly remembered bits of the book over the last 30-odd years, and recently bought an intact library copy online. Finished it today, liked it even better this time.

But now I'm married 25 years with 5 kids and 2 grandkids. Now what Curves of Pursuit shows me are two marriages at loose ends partly (mostly?) because nobody wants any children. The book isn't explicit about it, I just gather that intentionally 'child-free' marriage (and all that entails) is the model for both the characters and the author. Two troubled marriages, 4 smart people, 186 pages, not a peep about kids, pregnancy, the future, nothing.

Now I'd never say that having babies is a panacea for marital problems; but in my marriage, having kids certainly made the marriage more of what it was already: more love, more life, more God, more married. So: would my marriage have failed without kids? I doubt it. But I know that what we had before kids was less than what we had after- and I found that out only by having them.


RAnn said...

Years ago I learned a children's ditty that went "Love that is kept inside will surely fade some day;the only gifts we ever keep are those we give away". I'm with you, the older I get the more I see that too much focus on me or even "us" isn't good for me,us or others.

Christian LeBlanc said...

Yes...and it gets kinda boring.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

The story of that book is the story of all too many of those who were of marrying age in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The want for material possessions, selfishness, and stinginess with self rather than giving of self is the recipe for spiritual and emotional barrenness. I think many learned that way too late. I really admired a childless couple who pursued adoption agressively and were blessed with a precious little boy to complete their family.