Picks and Pans Review: A Curmudgeon's Garden of Love
Compiled by Jon Winokur
What an authentic curmudgeon would be doing in a garden in the first place, let alone being in love, is a question perhaps left for a better, nonvalentinian time.
In fact, the most certifiably curmudgeonly among these comments on the general subject of romance may be from science-fiction author Ursula Le Guin. who answered Winokur's requests for both a description of her worst date and of what women want by saying, "None of your business."
Technicalities aside, there's cautionary fun to be had in browsing through the wideranging definitions of and complaints about love that make up this volume.
Coleridge, for instance, said, "The man's desire is for the woman; the woman's desire is for the desire of the man." "Beware of the man who praises women's liberation," said Erica Jong. "He is about to quit his job." "I've only slept with the men I've been married to," quoth Elizabeth Taylor. "How many women can make that claim?" Or, of course, Alexander Woollcott: "Nothing risqué, nothing gained."
Winokur includes long Q&A interviews with some mostly dull commentators, including humorist Lewis Grizzard, columnist Alice Kahn, actor Orson Bean, actor-writer Harry Shearer and (the funniest) novelist Rita Mae Brown. Skim those and head for the hard-core curmudgeon stuff, such as an appraisal by French author Jules Renard: "Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties." (Plume, paper, $7.95)
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