Sunday, 9 November 2008

48 shades of love

So over at Pants at Large we’ve been talking about Nick Earls’s smashing book 48 Shades of Brown. Pants and I are in disagreement over the character Naomi. Naomi’s the girl that both main characters in the book are in love with. Pants maintains she is unconvinced by Naomi being the curly-headed blonde who is kooky and spacey and adorable in every way but doesn’t know that everyone’s in love with her kooky spacey loveableness because, as Pants says, those girls always know. And cultivate the kookiness etc on purpose because they just like to make boys lose it.

I, on the other hand, am a bit in love with Naomi. She is, after all, blonde and spacey and kooky and oblivious, and that is very adorable. (Pants does not like that girl). Nick Earls has created a very intelligent main character who is quite wordy and clever with language, but when it comes to Naomi, he’s somehow a little simpler with language, as if he can’t quite articulate what it is about her. It is a disarmingly straightforward way to talk. He loves “the ways she finds of understanding things, the things she finds to like.”

So. So. My point. Is. I think I am mostly in love with Naomi because of how the narrator talks about her.

And then, the song I was going on about the other day, Richard Thompson’s Beeswing (as sung only by Roy Bailey. Remember?) Here’s another wild and wilful lass, with whom the narrator (singer, I guess) is utterly smitten, a factory girl who belongs free on the moors and by the sea. She was a lost child, she was running wild, she said, ‘as long as there’s no price on love I’ll stay, and you wouldn’t want me any other way.’ Well, so the poor lad gets a bit keen to tie her down, and off she runs, and he hears of her every now and again, getting worn down and worse for wear as the price of refusing his ‘chains’, until finally he just wishes he could have any of her at all; better whatever little she can give than nothing.

Now, in this case, here’s a story that tells you more about the one singing it than the lass to whom he sings. You know? I’m not loving the girl he’s talking about, but falling in love with him for the way he’s talking about her.

The narrator that makes you fall in love with the object of his love, or the narrator you fall in love with because what he says about her reveals more about him? Which do you like best?


Allison Fairbairn said...

I get where you're coming from, but I just couldn't get behind her. I see the flakey blonde as someone who refuses to learn from mistakes (see the beeswing song) and continually hurts people and lets them down. After a while, there's just no excuse any more. Naomi seems to be becoming this, and I think Dan learns that in his own way. That's not to say she's not attractive, etc, but really. I also think the flakey girl (seen so often in books/movies/music by men who wear their hearts on their sleeves) is the equivalent of the bad boy - what attracts you to them is exactly what shouldn't. Yes?

Just like there's a nice guy waiting around the corner unnoticed, you know there's an Imogen waiting behind every Naomi.

I really appreciated the way Dan loved her, but came to realise she was not the girl for him without saying it in so many words, you know? That is good writing.

I think the only character I've ever fallen in love with through writing was Mr. Darcy, but that will always be coloured by Colin Firth so what can you do? These are the times we live in.

Amber said...

I see your point. I do. But then, I'm not in love with what Naomi _will become_, but what she engenders _now_. If you can't be that when you're nineteen, when can you? Plus, it's not her fault she lets down both Dan and Jacq. She didn't ask them both to be head-over-heels. There again, I see what you mean - if like you say, she 'knows' - well, then.

'Compare and contrast' with "F" from After Summer. Then we'll talk.

God. I can't even figure out fictional relationships. What hope?