I fear I'm in love! With one of my closest friends.
Or, I should say, I'm so in love with the male character in my friend's new novel--Kapitoil--that I suddenly have a huge crush on the author (my pal Teddy Wayne). The novel is just so wise and humble, funny and sweet, so incredibly touching (!) that it's killing me.
Do you guys ever get this way? Do you ever read a book and feel so moved by it that you fall in love with the writer?
I'm afraid I'm not going to do Kapitoil justice by summarizing, but it's about a young, slightly autistic computer programmer named Karim who comes to New York from the Middle East to take a big job that will help him give his beloved little sister a better life. As Karim tries to adjust to living in America's most intense city--as he rises through the ranks at his firm while trying to get a handle on the moral implications of a brilliant stock-trading program he's created--he falls for one of his work mates, Rebecca. The scenes of their burgeoning office romance will feel familiar to most of us: When Rebecca asks Karim to get coffee, he wonders if she's simply interested in friendship or more than that; they have a number of awkward moments over who will pay (and how much) for the things they do together; and Karim shows some early affection for Rebecca by removing a virus from her computer. (Chivalry is not dead!)
Here's one particularly sweet moment, after they say good-bye to each other one evening, and get onto subway platforms opposite each other. Karim--who hasn't quite mastered the English language--can see Rebecca across from him, and he watches her intently as she reads a book:
"Her forehead is very concentrated most of the time with a small compression in it and sometimes she smiles to herself ... once she even laughs quietly to herself ... She does not notice me, and I keep observing her until her train arrives, and then through the window I see the back of her head and the subway light mirroring the top of her hair like a silver crown until she disappears into the tunnel ...."
Then he thinks about how, when they were parting, she said Well, have a good night, and he tries "multiple times to decipher [that], because frequently it is not the words themselves that matter but the way they are said."
(How many times have YOU replayed a simple sentence in your head about 600 times wondering, for instance, what exactly he meant to imply by Hopefully I'll see you soon?)
(This is Teddy! Not only is he cute; he also has amazing biceps. Not your average flabby or scrawny writer guy.)
The real point of all this is that it's pretty rare that I fall so hard for a book that I also fall for its author.I think the only other two times it has happened with living novelists, it was with Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections (a very funny novel about a Midwestern family--and all of America--that became a bestseller), and with Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision (a very funny novel about a young unemployed guy who is trying to make up his mind about how to live his life).
(Here's Franzen for you. I rode in an elevator with him once; he is maybe slightly less hot in person but still quite foxy. If a bit doughy.)
(And Kunkel. I saw him at a party once, and he is vastly more hot--and less doughy--in person.)
(But, of course, this isn't about physique. It's about writing technique.)
Would you like to nominate your own NOVELISTS WE LOVE BECAUSE THEIR BOOKS ARE SO GOOD?
(Also, can you set me up with NOVELISTS WE LOVE BECAUSE THEIR BOOK ARE SO GOOD?)