Thursday, January 21, 2010

Love means

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me? Once I asked her in what order, and she said "alphabetically". I don't know if considered me by my surname, in which case I would be there between Bach and the Beatles, or if she.......
I first read Erich Segal's 'Love Story' when I was in my
Sophomore year in college, and fell hopelessly in love with Jennifer Cavalieri and Oliver Barrett IV. I could quote huge chunks of the book, and with some effort would be able to recall most of the exchanges even now. A friend and I even had this game going - one of us would throw out a line, the other would give the next one, and we would go on till we reached the end of that section. Neither of us ever faultered, neither could find fault with the other's memory.

'The Class' was the second of his books that I read, and though I did not think it would be possible, I liked it even more than I did 'Love Story'. Doctors, Prizes, Acts of Faith - I loved everything of his that I read. For a very long period, he remained if not my favourite author, definitely one of my favourite authors.

Erich Segal passed away the day I was running a marathon. I missed the announcement of his passing, and would never have known if the friend with whom I used to have the 'Love Story' marathons hadn't written to tell me that 'a part of our shared youth' passed away. I haven't read any of his books in years, but hearing about his demise felt almost like a part of my youth being takne away from me.

Through his orbituary, I came to know things about him that I never did till then - that he was born into the Jewish faith (should have guessed that), that he was a classics scholar and literary critic, and that at one time, both the men in the race for the US Presidentship had been students of his.

Tonight, I am going to pull out a well thumbed copy of one of his books and cry myself to sleep. And one day soon, I will buy 'Oliver's Story' and 'Man, Woman and Child' - two books which I unexplicably put off reading. Perhaps I subconsciously knew there would not be too many more books, and that was my way of dragging out the pleasure.

Erich Segal
(June 16, 1937- January 17, 2010)
Requiescat in pace

I leave with perhaps my favourite exchange between Jenny and Oliver-
"Aren't you a good Catholic girl?"
"I am good, and I am a girl. Two out of three isn't bad, is it?"


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I was a fan, too. :) I didn't think there would be 2 38 year olds in the world that were fans of "Love Story" and Segal's other books. I was sorry to hear the news.

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Watery Tart said...

I love your deep connection to books, Natasha. I love books, but I think came to be a reader enough later that I didn't have this same level of connection. I believe I've read 'The Class', but Love Story was a movie first I heard of it (a tear jerker, but a different kind of experience than a book)

Funny--I guess I KNOW you two are the same age, but I hadn't thought about it before... I always feel some kinship with people exactly my age, so that's pretty cool.

dipali said...

Love Story was part of my growing up years too. Erich Segal's passing marks the end of an era.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Elizabeth - how cool is that - two 38 year olds living in opposite ends of the globe, discovering each other accidentally, and finding they share a favourite author!

@ Tami - Love Story is one of the only stories where the movie was not too different from the book. And you are right - Love Story and all the rest of his books appeal to you at a certain stage in life. Beyond that stage, you still like them, but they don't affect you as emotionally.

@ Dipal - it does, doesn't it? The number of people with Erich Seghal RIP as their status message on Facebook is incredible.

Ron said...

Erich Sehgal was an integral part of my growing up years. Though Love Story did not do much for me, I LOVED The Class, Doctors and Acts of Faith. I read Acts of Faith at a time when I was beginning to question my own faith in religion and the book seemed to be a reflection of my doubts and questions. Also thanks to Erich Sehgal and his books I developed this interest in Judaism and the holocaust, which soon turned into a full blown obsession with World War II...which persists till today. I think I will fish out my ollllld copy of The Class and re read.

Btw, Oliver's Story is not that great somehow. Man Woman and Child is fantastic though.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Ron - Acts of Faith happened to me after I went through the phase of questioning my faith, so it did not affect me as profoundly as it seems to have done you. If you are interested in exploring Judaism, the book I would recommend in James Michener's Source. I've read the book several times, and will cheerfully read it a few times more.


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