Recognition

I am semi-obsessed with Curtis Sittenfeld's novels and I am working on the third of three she has published. One mark of her narratives is the remarkable way she captures the charged moments between two people. I am a person that is generally uncomfortable one-on-one, face-to-face. Interviews, dinners with only one other person -- the pressure to concentrate on one person alone and the tennis game of you talk, he talks is oral surgery for me. I think this is because my mind does not operate in a very linear way which explains a lot of things. But back to Sittenfeld. I love the way she paints encounters between two people, especially romantic ones. They are so honest and raw, oftentimes sweet and tinged with a little discomfort. She writes a lot about faces and expressions. Here is an excerpt that touched me:

And I thought, Andrew. His smile and eyelashes, his hazel eyes, his tanned calves, my head against his chest at last spring's prom. He had always liked me, he had never hidden it...and I had felt his recognition of me. People recognized you or they didn't, and it was unrelated to knowing you. Knowing you could just be your name or the street you lived on, your father's job. Recognizing you was understanding you had thoughts in your head, finding the same things funny or excruciating, remembering what you'd said months or even years after you said it. Andrew had always been kind to me, he had always noticed me. Who else in my life was that true of beyond my immediate family.

- Curtis Sittenfeld, An American Wife

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