Friday, January 14, 2011


I'm a big fan of GoodReads, and after I read a book I tend to peruse its reviews on the site. Maybe I want validation of my opinions, or to figure out what I missed. Maybe I'm merely interested in what others have to say. Be that as it may, I finished Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist yesterday. It wasn't necessarily my favorite book ever-- the punky music snob references flowed a little too heavy for me-- but I became its devout defender after I read the first review.

The reviewer likens the book to a journal written by their 14-year-old self, complaining about the sentimentality of a moment where Nick stands out in the rain. He's aware of everything around him, of feeling, of love. It's a powerful moment in the book. The cynical review chastises this moment as belonging to the world of trite teenage beliefs.

Yes, the novel is deeply embedded in the heads of its 17-year-old protagonists. And sure, they're a little emo, a little coarse, a little walled, and a little over-zealous all at once. But they're living. They're galavanting around Manhattan until dawn, feeling music, exploring the world.

When I was just eighteen, living in London for a few weeks, I hit a brick wall. I was lonely, made a dumb decision, got hurt. And I stood out in the rain one evening, and things were just... okay again. Cleansed.

I'm not a teenager, but I'm not out of adolescence, so maybe my view on this isn't "real" enough, but I say the day I stop believing there is truth that comes from standing out in the rain, the day I can stand at a concert and not wish to be further in the moment, to feel the release of the pulse of the drums, the connection with the artist standing above me. The day when all I want in the world isn't one more glass of wine with my best friends....

On the day I stop believing in the world people like Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman represent-- belief, love, music, adventure-- the world I love, and am coming to love even more. On that day, I no longer deserve the magic I have become privy to.

Maybe at thirty, or thirty-five I will look back on this blog with a cynic's eye. Oh, kid, you know not of what you speak. And if I do, I challenge you thirty-year-old me. Go stand in the rain, and look at the sky, and tell me there isn't something magical about that.

I dare you.


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