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Thursday night reading

He started finishing Madeleine’s sentences. As if her mind was too slow. As if he couldn’t wait for her to gather her thoughts. He riffed on the things she said, going off on strange tangents, making puns. Whenever she told him he needed to get some sleep, he got angry and didn’t call her for days. And it was during this period that Madeleine fully understood how the lover’s discourse was of an extreme solitude. The solitude was extreme because it wasn’t physical. It was extreme because you felt it while in the company of the person you loved. It was extreme because it was in your head, that most solitary of places.

The more Leonard pulled away, the more anxious Madeleine became. The more desperate she became, the more Leonard pulled away. She told herself to act cool. She went to the library to work on her marriage-plot thesis, but the sex-fantasy atmosphere—the reading-room eye contact, the beckoning stacks—made her desperate to see Leonard. And so against her will her feet began leading her back across campus through the darkness to the biology department. Up to the last moment, Madeleine had the crazy hope that this expression of weakness might in fact be strength. It was a brilliant strategy because it lacked all strategy. It involved no games, only sincerity. Seeing such sincerity, how could Leonard fail to respond? She was almost happy as she came up behind the lab table and tapped Leonard on the shoulder, and her happiness lasted until he turned around with a look not of love but of annoyance.

An excerpt from The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Sigh. Just when I thought I could not love this book even more. Oh, fiction.