Have you ever overanalyzed a relationship after a breakup? Have you watched in dismay as a girlfriend pines over a guy who’s not worth her time? Well then, read on for a glimpse into what I would call “the eternal sunshine of the lovelorn mind.”
Diane Schoemperlen’s At A Loss For Words is a love story told in a cathartic manner through a candid character. It’s a first-hand account of a woman addicted to being in love. All the love cliches apply here; “Love is blind,” “Love conquers all” and “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” just to name a few. The novel is very readable with its “he said, she said” back and forth banter between unnamed characters. “She” is a well-known author who rekindles a romance when “he” comes back after a 30-year gap. The reunited couple carries on a long-distance relationship that serves as a distraction and catalyst for her writer’s block. She uses horoscopes, crossword puzzles and writing exercises to help find a cure for the common literary euphemism. In an attempt to keep the relationship alive, the couple tries to communicate through e-mails and phone calls. Things start off hot and heavy (literally and figuratively) but soon Jack and Jill roll down heartache hill. His sketchy contributions turn oblique, ambiguous and passive-aggressive in nature. Her frequent e-mails come off as desperate, needy and pathetic. He says their relationship is “a work in progress.” She says it’s too much work and not enough progress and sums it all up when she writes, “I am thinking about how often I hated myself for loving you. I am thinking about how it proved to be a very short leap from thinking I am crazy about you, to thinking I am just plain crazy.” In her lovesick angst, she realizes that he is stringing her along and letting their relationship die a slow death. The mementoes from the misbegotten romance just become detritus reminders of failure. As the relationship ends, she talks about the D’s: despair, despondant, desolation, desperation and depression. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all depression talk, there’s plenty of witty thoughts and insights to keep the reader laughing whether it’s at the character or your own “been there, done that” recognition. The not-so-surprising ending adds to the theme about lessons in love that serves as a warning to women everywhere. Something to think about.