3 New Books That Will Make You Rethink What Romance Means
So it’s pretty cold out there, if you haven’t noticed. It’s definitely book club season: time for some indoor cocooning, activities you can do with a mug of hot chocolate in your hand (making snowmen out of marshmallows is vastly more comfortable and delicious than using actual snow). And what warms the heart better than romance? But, you know, you’re not a cliché person, and who needs to read the same romance with the same tired beats every time? Not you! Instead, let your body get comfortable, but surprise your brain a bit with these atypical romances.
We’re so over May-December romances with sordid affairs featuring an older man finding comfort in the arms of a woman young enough to be his daughter, but flip the roles, and you might find something more interesting to say. Huston’s book centers on 48-year-old Eve, a garden designer who less-than-happily lives in New Jersey with her pharmaceutical coating-supplier husband, Larry. Eve lives her life and her work as a hobbyist might. “Taking it more seriously would mean confronting Larry and claiming ownership of her time and priorities, which she is not prepared to do. The status quo feels fragile, although it also feels as lasting as mortal life allows. All that’s required is that she keep the delicate political balance, and doesn’t rock the boat or disturb the sleeping dogs. She’s gotten into the habit of not pushing any communication past the minimum required for practical matters and the appearance of enough closeness to assure her that their marriage is sound.”
We teach AIs to do a lot of different things, but few of us would say, “Hey Siri, find me a date.” (Okay, maybe some would, but you know her “Okay. Here’s a list of dates I’ve found for you” would just be an online calendar.) Reizin’s book asks the question: What if AIs reached a level of sophistication that allowed them to not only be able to match-make, but also to care enough that they took the initiative to do so without even being asked? Jen, a former London journalist, is teaching a new AI called Aiden (get it?) to have conversations with people. She’s been hired to make the chatbot more understanding of human interaction so it can eventually replace call center employees and staff nursing hotlines. So, Jen spends a lot of time talking, which means occasionally sharing an intimate detail of her life with Aiden.
“If she showed, maybe we could find a way to rewind, rewrite, do it all over. Do it all better. Do it all again, only differently. It’s silly; it’s something out of a Hollywood ending, and I’d know that better than most. It’s not how I’d write it, but it’s how the studio would want it, what would appeal to the demographic they were courting: Men will want to go home and screw their wives, call their girlfriends; women will weep and know that love conquers all.” Scotch’s book gives us an in-and-out-of-love story from two different perspectives, each with its own spin on events.