Monogamy by Sue Miller – a literary mix tape

I have a backlog of reviews, and Monogamy by Sue Miller is one of them. I enjoyed it for its exploration of all facets of grief – yes, the sadness and sentimental stuff, but also the anger, resentment, selfishness, the physical and social impact, and the questions that won’t be answered.

In summary, it’s the story of Annie and her husband Graham. Graham is charismatic and always the life of the party. Annie is introverted, an observer. When Graham dies suddenly, Annie feels exposed. When she discovers that Graham had been having an affair, she questions everything she thought she knew about Graham. Annie’s story is layered with flashbacks to Graham’s own experience of grief as a child (on losing his father) and remorse over the failure of his first marriage.


What Kind of Fool | Barbara Streisand & Barry Gibb

“…it’s old tired story, that’s all, the damaged person who can’t be held responsible for all the damage he causes.”

I’m Not Ready | Olivia Broadfield

She couldn’t have imagined it. Graham was his body – big, energetic, alive. Stilled, he was more absent than anyone else would have been.

Let Love Speak Up Itself | The Beautiful South

And what he was good at, in the face of that, was offering a kind of…joyous sympathy. Or is it empathy? Anyway, he was just there, steady and warm. He made people happy, without even trying.

Everybody Hurts | REM

…there was a sadness to his mother’s core that he had felt the wish to lift as a child, the impossible wish to lift. And because he could never achieve that, what he wanted as he grew older was to be free of it. To separate himself from it, and therefore from her.

Human | Christina Perri

He saw that somehow his father’s death would have to be, for him, first about his mother. That her sorrow would have precedence over his, would once again get in the way of what he wanted to feel, cleanly, selfishly: grief. Grief for the father he had loved so unequivocally, the one he held, always, blameless.

Dance While the Music Still Goes On | ABBA

“Love isn’t just what two people have together, it’s what two people make together, so of course, it’s never the same.”

To Love Somebody | Bee Gees

She’d thought she was memorable. How clear it was that she was not. It wasn’t a quality you possessed, she thought now. It was a quality other people endowed you with.


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