Maybe it's those impossibly beautiful images from the Royal Wedding lingering in my head. After all, I'm officially still a newlywed myself. Or, maybe it's that all of the armageddon-laced predictions of late turned out to be wrong. Hell, maybe it's simply that spring has finally arrived in Northern Michigan. Whatever it is, I'm feeling decidedly cheerful these days.
Which is why I was so taken aback to read this in The New Yorker: "Marriage is an anachronism."
Having just turned in a memoir containing the two literary sins of marriage and a happen ending, this caught my attention. I've been using my newly aimless days to plow through my reading pile like a hired hand. The above pronouncement is part of a review of Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage that the magazine published a ways back. The review goes on to say this about Ms. Gilbert's happy ending:
"The 'peace and contentment' at which Gilbert abruptly arrives in the final chapter of the book is a little suspicious . . . As in all romantic comedies, from the novels of Jane Austen to the 'Sex and the City' movie, 'Committed' ends with a wedding that brings with it the cessation of doubt and strife."
From there, my reading veered off to an anthology, My Mistress Sparrow is Dead edited by Jeffrey Eugenides. In the introduction, I found this: "The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims -- these are lucky eventualities but they aren't love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart."
Well, I like a cold heart just as much as the next person but only if it's earned. Same with warm and happy endings. They have to be earned. But to criticize a happy ending only because it dares to be happy? Now that's cold.
In my stack of reading it is beginning to seem like a happy ending is, well, stranger than fiction.