You should date an illiterate girl.

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in a film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale or the evenings too long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.

Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent of a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, goddamnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so goddamned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life of which I spoke at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being told.

So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you.

Or, perhaps, stay and save my life.

~ C. Warnke

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: The Book and its Movie

972219_10152995371255094_1810839561_nI’m a fan of books turned into movies. For the most part it means that I get to experience something that I love in two different ways – and that is awesome!

In the last couple of weeks I have read and watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. While both have their merits, I must admit that I much preferred the book this time. Sadly, I fell in love with the kid in the book, while the kid in the movie kind of annoyed me a bit. The book had a quirky and endearing quality while I found the movie a little slow and lacking in emotion.

1003029_562264673819385_1900689648_nFoer has an incredibly addictive writing style. He strikes me as a “young” Tony Parsons or Nick Hornby….possibly with the potential to be my generation’s John Irving. Anyone who knows me knows that this is the highest praise the man could possibly get from me. Mr Foer – I envy your ability. You are quite inspirational. In fact…after finishing this book I immediately started working on something with a child narrator. Unfortunately it was eaten by my computer. Clearly the universe wasn’t happy…

Anyway: The book is a definite yes.






The movie? Not so much… At least not for me…



Books & Their Movies

I’m a bit of a book geek, obviously, so when people start discussing books that have been turned into movies I’m always kind of interested in what they have to say. Unfortunately…no one ever seems to have much to say. I don’t know if it’s because people genuinely feel this way, or if it’s because they think that they are supposed to, but the only thing anyone ever seems to say is that the book is always better than the movie.

I must admit I disagree. The book is often different from the movie, but is it always better? I don’t think so. I think that what makes a movie work and what makes a book work might not always be the same thing. It often does happen that I feel a book was more pleasurable than its movie counterpart, but I have also enjoyed a few movies more than I did their books.

Like every other girl on the planet, I loved The Notebook movie. I loathed the book. It didn’t even remotely give me the same sense of romance. The two stories didn’t seem to even be on the same planet. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was an ok book but a brilliant movie. I adored the Bridget Jones books but loathed their movies. I loved all the Harry Potter books as well as their movies. It changes. Maybe that makes me a bad “bookie”, but whatever the story, I need to feel something. Sometimes the author doesn’t succeed as well as the actor does. Is it so bad to feel that way?