Monday, March 17, 2008

Love among the fossils

I was browsing around the internet and happened to check into Will North's blog. He has some interesting discussion about The Long Walk Home, including a piece exclaiming "Will someone please tell me what’s so surprising about love stories involving older people?" He explains how mature people falling in love is hardly an earth-shattering event: they do it all the time.

Of course, he's right, but the interesting thing is, it doesn't often get written about. I read plenty of love stories, trying to find the right ones for Select Editions, and as I responded to Will's posting, most of them seem to boil down to two categories. First, there's young unmarried people finding each other, and secondly, there's slightly older people who should be married or should be married to someone else finding each other.

Will seems to think the reason for this is that we are hung up on young people, but I wonder if it's something else. My theory is that when we read, we just gravitate to imagining lead characters in their twenties. Quite honestly, when I was a kid reading books, I always imagined lead characters in their twenties, and today I still imagine lead characters in their twenties. Why, is an interesting question. Maybe it does indeed stem from a youth culture mentality, perhaps fed by Hollywood. But maybe it's something more innocent and natural.

Maybe one's twenties inherently seems like a good time of life to have adventures, and books are adventures, so we naturally are inclined to imagine adventurers of the appropriate age. In other words, not just love stories but almost all stories get mentally set in that vague twenty-ish age bracket.

I remember reading somewhere once that one of the secrets of the mind is that no kid ever thinks they're young and no oldster ever thinks they're old. The mind is a timeless place. Maybe we all just think we're somewhere in our twenties.

It's an interesting question.


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