Book Review: “Tiny Love Stories”

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A single poetic line breaks the surface of every New York situation: “There was a tingle in my chest. ‘Rise up! Do not be afraid!’ ”

That was young Jane Grant, in the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic of romance, “Gatsby.”

Recently, born-again believer in poets’ visceral observations, Grant stretched the metaphor over seven years to explain the book’s title, “Tiny Love Stories.”

This is not your mother’s love story. This is bigger than your feelings. This is awe. The art of love has seldom been this joyous. It’s transcendent. And it’s real. I felt love overwhelm fear. It let me know that fear was an illusion. Fear about the ending of a relationship and fear about divorce, fear of the future, fears of being alone, all for naught. A love I finally decided was divine. It cut through the characters, their arguments, and their delusions and their sins. There were moments of utter terror. But the love that broke through that image felt it too, powerful beyond words.

The line Rose wrote is rare and beautiful because it sounds much larger than life. As if the poet Mary Oliver had been there. There are probably many poets you have never heard of but all are one foot taller than you. The flower is the most universal symbol, yet poets change that definition, as their language becomes far from flowery. It’s a rare kind of power, just as it is rare to hear poets write about personal experiences.

For example, it’s strange to read about ”Love One More Chance” while smelling the fragrance of the roses on one’s car, or brushing on the mascara. I always have been a romantic writer, but a lot of people think of romance as funny jokes or songs. That is part of the reason for this book.

My mother is hysterical and one of my favorite poems is John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Child Who Was Fucked.” He talked about one night he broke up with his girlfriend and that only heightened his bitterness. However, that did not stop him to become a poet or act on that bitterness. You want to lose the past, and then you bring a different experience into the future. My friend Barry writes, “Oh, the honey I ate the night before. The way my own passion went under a promise. The way my cockily confident bliss was replaced by nightmares.”

There’s a definite poetic element to my book. I tried to simplify everything and get at the heart of the matter: the experience of love. I always say the experience of love is as rare and beautiful as the flowers in my garden. While it may be difficult to describe, it is still valid. This is not your mother’s love story. This is bigger than your feelings. This is awe. The art of love has seldom been this joyous. It’s transcendent. And it’s real. I felt love overwhelm fear. It let me know that fear was an illusion. Fear about the ending of a relationship and fear about divorce, fear of the future, fears of being alone, all for naught. A love I finally decided was divine. It cut through the characters, their arguments, and their delusions and their sins. There were moments of utter terror. But the love that broke through that image felt it too, powerful beyond words.

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