joi, 3 noiembrie 2022

The Tunnel of Love by Peter De Vries, author of Slouching Towards Kalamazoo - 10 out of 10


The Tunnel of Love by Peter De Vries, author of Slouching Towards Kalamazoo

10 out of 10



The Tunnel of Love is mentioned in the phenomenal Memoirs of Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis, who says that this is about the funniest novel he has read – or words to that effect – and coming with such a recommendation, entering The Tunnel of Love becomes a necessity, notwithstanding the fact that Peter De Vries is the author of Slouching Towards Kalamazoo, which is included on the list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read


The Tunnel of Love shares with Slouching the irony, satire, incredible humor and the serious look at important themes, looked upon by an erudite, sophisticated, playful luminary, who has had the father of the narrator and his rival for mother’s affection dispute over the existence of God in Slouching, with one convinced by the other, father losing his faith and then the competitor becoming an atheist, or was it vice versa?

We do not know the name of the narrator, but his humor is exhilarating, he tries to help Augie Poole and his wife, Isolde, to adopt a child, in spite of the fact that he knows Augie is philandering – when asked, the latter says that he has had sex with forty there women, ten of these affairs took place since he has married, he has the urge to feel guilty and cheating on his wife provides this ‘satisfaction’…he would get into a relationship with an artist, Cornelia Bly, and in that context, he feels the guilt transferred…at home, for Isolde is rather liberal, while Cornelia does not tolerate promiscuity…


However, a baby will result from the extramarital connection and this would pose quite a few problems, aside from hiding the news from the spouse, a couple of agencies are investigating the couple to see if they are ‘parent timber’ and knowing that this is such an unstable would be father could or definitely would jeopardize the chances of adoption, the expecting woman wants to keep the baby, and then, seeing as she does not have the means to keep the infant, she is prompted to give the baby for…adoption.

Could the child end up in the home of his…father, well, this is just part of the plot that has its own share of irony and amusement, with fainting and unexpected situations coming frequently to the stage; the narrator himself is attracted to a world be writer, Terry McBain, a woman who wants some help with her book, which is about her father, a weird eejit who is ready to sue everybody (in the mold of the cretin Trump), and since the narrator is editor at a publication, his advice would be important


Since his wife, Audrey, is missing, the main character aka the narrator gets closer to Terry, given that he is attracted to her, he does not disclose his entanglements (incidentally, he has four children) and ends up in her place, where he has second thoughts, feels guilty, remembers his wife – some or all of the above, maybe he has different feelings, but this is how I lived his life in those moments, or I am living it now through recollections…this is referring to the fabulous thought of Umberto Eco, who has said that those who read live 5,000 lives and those who do not just the one, and readers have eternity offered backwards, but sometimes, the lives we enter this way suffer interesting transformations, especially when one tends to forget what the personage said, felt…what was I talking about by the way…


Another mirthful occurrence happens as a consequence of the above closeness, the protagonist does not feel like staying, Terry is offended, feels rejected the first time, but the two have another chance to get intimate, maybe even have coitus, but before that, the narrator gets so drunk he does not remember what had happened during the night, therefore, when Terry calls for an emergency and says that her father ‘knows and he is going to court’ our fellow is sure she is talking about the night when they must have had intercourse, a child was conceived and he might be shot by the aggressive parent…

Nevertheless, in the meantime, the result of the efforts to publish the work of the aspiring writer have come to naught with our hero aka antihero, but he has had a brilliant idea, to try Reader’s Digest, where the intent was a success, and we will find out (spoiler alert) that the father had been enraged in fact by the idea of becoming a outré personage in a story published by the Digest and he was threatening to sue them, his daughter stopped the publication and then she is writing about her mother…


Thus, the narrator has been scared to death about a false premise, he was not about to be shot, for there was no baby coming, and maybe, probably, they have had no sex, only the problems of his friend, Augie, are increasing, for Cornelia has to give the baby for adoption, and if they first thought that she will give him to a different agency, things take another turn, and we may see Augie adopting his own son.

To this reader, that sounded fine somehow, what better outcome that have the father care for his son, even if under outré circumstances, however mirthful the path that would bring the two together might be here, for he has to hide from Isolde and the agency, the fact that he would be adopting his offspring.


The hilarity in this marvelous book does not rest in the plot, not altogether, but in the way the words are found to give audiences the maximum pleasure, indeed, this is the quintessential Flow Experience, as described by Mihaly Csickszentmihalyi in his magnificent Flow, where we find the conditions for Being in the Zone, having clear goals, challenges meet expectations, time is relative, feedback is constant and instantaneous, we are in control, self is evading and we are concentrated on the task at hand, all of which could be met reading The Tunnel of Love…you can end up doing this

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