Stories on stories: Her Fearful Symmetry

The first time I finished Her Fearful Symmetry, it was past midnight the night before Chris was leaving for a trip to Wisconsin. I stayed up really late to finish because I couldn't bear the thought of finishing a ghost story without him in the apartment and I couldn't bear the thought of NOT finishing the book until he returned.

The second time I finished Her Fearful Symmetry, it was also late at night, but this time we were in Wisconsin. We were laying on the airbed in Chris' Dad's basement and the still-lit Christmas tree cast a little light towards the dark corners near the stairs. I had to pee, but put it off for 30 pages because I was scared to walk to the bathroom alone. And when I finally finished the last page and went to the bathroom, I did it quick, like when you're a kid, like when you bolt back towards your bed, a surge of adrenaline and fear chomping at your heels the whole way.

What struck me most this time around was how this is not just a ghost story. Like The Time Traveler's Wife, this is a love story. It's the story of sister love, parent love and partner love. I lay there, unable to sleep, feeling uber-gushy towards Chris. I worried about who would die first. The love from that love story had just soaked right in and I was left as one is at the end of a truly good story: staggering and struggling at the beauty and complexity of life.

This is my first re-read for this semester and what I'm realizing is that these second encounters are as much about the circumstances surrounding the memory of reading, as they are about the book itself. I think I'll document the experience of the re-read with posts like this, typed out stories about the stories themselves.

1 comment:

Scott Carpenter said...

I'm adding this book to my list. I really liked Time Traveler's Wife.

Have you read her "Night Bookmobile?"

It starts here:


They bill it as a graphic "novel" but it's fairly short. I discovered it after it had finished up and was disappointed there was no more.