I am sitting on my balcony, painting my toenails turquoise and my fingernails glittery-gold with green flecks. I am listening to Tori Amos’ first album, which is all about being a woman in love and a woman scorned and a woman transcending the malaise of the self and the world around her. Quite dramatic. I drink Montepulciano red and my hair is air-drying so that it is naturally wavy and a bit frizzy and long.
I prefer to live my days like this, instead of sitting in an uptight office where I mustn’t wear deep red lipstick or make jokes. This is the world we live in, so in order to escape from it, I find the things that make me happiest are the things I return to most often–the beautiful, strange little stories of love and coming-of-age. In a way, when I’m sitting at my desk at work, I still feel like I’m 14, careless and anti-authoritarian and a little bit insane.
And because summer is almost over, I re-read and re-watch the movies and books I love–all of which take place in the swarming, warm, watery, natural places where love and lust and frenzy blooms.
MY SUMMER OF LOVE by Helen Cross
Film by Pawel Pawlikowski
Pawlikowski brought this book to life. It’s all mountains and girls in silk and violent love–with a nice dose of religion (a massive cross is lugged up a hillside in a display of gratuitously insane Lord-love.) Two girls from different class backgrounds fall in love for the summer. Like love itself, it is maddened and dark and sometimes dysfunctional.
“Her words were like tinfoil; they shone and they covered things up.”
THE LOVER, or L’Amant by Marguerite Duras
Film by Claude Berri
I also absolutely love Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, a book everyone must read once and then a thousand other tiny. The book is tiny, but its love affair eternal in many ways. A young French girl engages in an erotic affair with an older, wealthy Chinese man in French Indochina. It is 1929, and she skips out on her boarding school classes to make love in a small room along the dirty, bustling streets of Saigon. The girl essentially has all the power in this one, in many ways.
“Years after the war, after marriages, children, divorces, books, he came to Paris with his wife. He phoned her. It’s me. She recognized him at once from the voice. He said, I just wanted to hear your voice. She said, it’s me, hello. He was nervous, afraid, as before. His voice suddenly trembled. And with the trembling, suddenly, she heard again the voice of China. He knew she’d begun writing books, he’d heard about it through her mother whom he’d met again in Saigon. And about her younger brother, and he’d been grieved for her. Then he didn’t know what to say. And then he told her. Told her that it was as before, that he still loved her, he could never stop loving her, that he’d love her until death.”
THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, or La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende
Film by Bille August
Then, there’s the House of The Spirits, a book that envelops generations and generations of a paranormal, political and quirky family. It shows the rise and fall of power, the magic of women and the loyal, sexist, monstrous, beautiful and young love of all of its family members. The movie was atrocious in many ways by the book was incredible.
“She was one of those people who was born for the greatness of a single love, for exaggerated hatred, for apocalyptic vengance, and for the most sublime forms of heroism but she was unable to shape her fate to the dimensions of her amorous vocation, so it was lived out as something flat and gray trapped between her mother’s sickroom walls, wretched tenements, and the tortured confessions with which this large, opulent, hot-blooded woman made for maternity, abundance, action, and ardor- was consuming herself.”