29 July 2011

You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin

Thoughts and Reflections
This was a slow and meandering book that sauntered through a number of interesting topics. Ultimately, this is the story of a middle aged man who had suddenly lost his wife in a car accident a few years earlier.

The protagonist, Victor, is depicted in the midst of what appears to be a very average mid-life crisis. He is having an affair with a woman half his age, Ronnie, and who happens to be interested in burlesque dancing. However, throughout the book, the reader learns that Victor is experiencing a much deeper crisis. Prior to the death of his wife, he and his wife were experiencing some marital difficulties, which had resulted in a brief separation. Only a few weeks after her return, was she killed. The couple did not have time enough to make proper amends.

The bulk of the novel focuses on Victor in his present. However, prior to her death, Victor and his wife underwent some counselling in which they were directed to write down 5 key points in their marriage that changed direction. Victor, being a scientist, thought this exercise to be a load of malarkey. However, his wife took the exercise seriously. Three years later, Victor finds the cards on which she wrote down these 5 points and begins to read them. Through these cards, as well as through Victor`s relationship with Ronnie, the book explores the nature of relationship. The books reveals the beautiful moments and the painful moments, the imperfections and miscommunications, but also the need in these individuals for an intimate relationship, not only sexual, but also emotional.

Reading these cards also usher Victor into a state of grief that he had not yet experienced over the death of his wife. His seemingly harmless mid-life crisis becomes one of un-released grief and far deeper cutting. The reader watches his spiral and spin, until at least he allows himself to grieve.

A key theme in this book is the idea of memory. As Victor reads the cards, the written memories of his wife, he learns that she remembered moments that he had no recollection of, that an evening meant something entirely different to her, that they remembered the same event differently. The very idea of trusting personal memory is put into question.

Identity is also a sub-theme in this book, certainly not a central theme, but one that is discussed nonetheless. A number of the characters are places in the wake of Victor`s crisis. Their own emotional baggage and insecurities are revealed and explored, including Victor`s. Victor himself repeats certain behaviours, for instance always apologising for his failures and failing to take a strong stance on issues in his relationships. These behaviours are explored through his grieving process and crisis. His lover, through her relationship with Victor, learns more about her emotional insecurities and the emotional side of a relationship. Their interactions and behaviours reveal both their personalities and insecurities.

Ultimately, the book is one of healing and finding one`s footing again. However, the bulk of the book focuses on the long and painful process of being undone. I found the themes very interesting in this book. They are discussed very subtly through the lives of these characters, so subtly that the reader could easily ignore them. In that case, the books would seem little more than a smattering of crisis and affair. However, the themes are there and worth meandering through.

About the Author
Rosecrans Baldwin was born in Chicago. You Lost Me There is his first novel, published in 2010. As a newly published author and relatively young, there is not very much available information on the lad, even in the Bio page of his website. However, by creeping his Facebook, I was able to determine that he currently lives in North Carolina. 

Things I Loved About This Novel
1. The very real discussion of relationships, identity, and personal insecurities. This books doesn`t necessarily paint a pretty picture, but it is honest and not despairing.
2. The discussion on memory.
3. The overall mood of healing.

1 comment:

julienne said...

An interesting and thoughtful summary of the book Andrea. Glad you enjoyed it too!