Deconstructing a relationship is a tricky thing. You have differing points of view, resulting in different versions of reality. Not to mention, the memory can be a tricky thing- keeping what it wants and discarding what it would rather not hold on to.
In Larry Baker’s Love and Other Delusions, we find ourselves immersed in the complicated, sometimes confusing relationship of Danny and Alice. Two people with seemingly little in common, who are inexplicably drawn to each other and spend two decades engaged in an elaborate dance of desire, denial and destruction.
We are introduced to Alice by way of her therapist and the first thing we learn about her is that Alice is a liar. It is an important characteristic to note, but as the story unfolds it becomes less and less clear to whom Alice is lying- herself or others.
Alice eventually tells her therapist, Kathy that she has come to her to try to understand who Danny was to her or more importantly who the person was who loved Danny. The answers are far more difficult to find than one would think
Alice is a woman who has lived her life in halves. The one half- the woman who was married to her husband, Pete, and had random assignations with men who didn’t really matter to her, and the other half- the woman who belonged to Danny- but only on her terms and never completely.
The post-mortem of a relationship, especially when told primarily through the eyes of only one of the participants, can be biased and one-sided, giving the reader an unrealistic view of what actually happened. Love and Other Delusions is saved from this storytelling flaw by both Baker’s use of the therapist Kathy and by the road-trip of self-discovery that is employed to reveal all the sides of Alice’s ill- fated relationship with Danny.
Oddly enough, while reading this I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies. It fits quite well as a one line synopsis of sorts for Larry Baker’s latest novel :
“…love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*.”
In Love and Other Delusions you can witness the interesting path of two people who are essentially victims of their own circumstances, thrown together by fate and drawn to each other’s emptiness and needs. The tale of Alice and Danny is far from storybook, but it has depth and a messy reality that makes it all the more intriguing. A gripping read.
Love and Other Delusions by Larry Baker will be released April 15, 2012
by Ice Tea Press, a fiction imprint of Ice Cube Books