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.