THE BOOK OF LOVE by Roger Rosenblatt


Improvisations on a Crazy Little Thing
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An improvisational, personal meditation on the subject of love.

The concept of love can be tricky to pin down. Many definitions include a variation on the feeling of passion—something powerful, inflamed, wild, difficult to control and all-consuming. Intensity, desire and enthusiasm are common to feeling love for something or someone. In this warm, musical exploration on love, Rosenblatt (English and Writing/Stony Brook Univ.; The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood, 2013, etc.) wanders down all of those paths, but he spends extra time examining the idea of being in love. He begins with a story about the Chinese inventing the clock and it being stored away in the emperor’s vaults, forgotten. When sailors from France arrived 400 years later with their new invention—the clock—their Chinese hosts were amazed, having never seen anything quite so wonderful. More than 100 pages pass before Rosenblatt tips his hand—“You don’t forget something important to you unless it isn’t important”—only to show that his cards won’t reveal answers, except for the ones we already know but require a new perspective to see. If that sounds vague in an off-putting way, worry not; there’s all manner of insight to be found, packed neatly into fewer than 200 pages. Rosenblatt pulls from popular culture, mythology and anecdotal stories to create a mural that is both wide-ranging and focused. “I sympathize with people who seek to create a unity of thought and emotion out of disorder,” he writes, “but I also believe that trying to fit parts into a whole makes each component smaller, less interesting and inauthentic.”

While plenty of writers have tried their hand at capturing the improvisational brilliance of jazz, with varying degrees of success, Rosenblatt’s wanderings with the subject of love are like Coltrane at the Village Vanguard. When you hear it, you know.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0062349422
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2014


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