Friday, April 14, 2006

The Price of Salt


I finished Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt last evening... you know how I'm always admitting that something made me cry? Like, I spent an hour last week sobbing loudly watching an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (I feel less ashamed to admit to this than I should because a) Ty Pennington wasn't on the episode, thereby reducing the UGH-factor, and b) the mother of the clan receiving the new house was a huge fan of Kermit the Frog, so Kermit was there helping build the house, and he sang The Greatest Song Ever Written, "The Rainbow Connection", for the family, and the mother cried, and I cried, and it was, like spiritual and shit).

What the hell was I talking about? Oh right - I cried at that show, and am always crying at movies, or TV... but never books. Books, on only the rarest occasions, have made me cry. I didn't cry reading the short story "Brokeback Mountain", but well, as we all know I had a shaking-fit crying so hard watching the film. Which isn't to say I wasn't incredibly moved by that story, but for some reason reading something just doesn't usually make me react with tears. I guess I connect more intellectually with written word, and more emotionally with something visual... cinematic. Not that I'm exactly unique in this regard.

What I'm getting at with all this prattling is that The Price of Salt made me cry. Highsmith's story hits such universal notes - of being overwhelmed and, ultimately, changed by first love - and where we come out at the end is realized so beautifully - specifically, in the unfamiliarity of a single movement, a wave, from one lover to the other. The meloncholy of growing up, of what we leave behind in little pieces - a blind passion that it's at once healthy to lose yet is also a loss of our innocence - and the way we're never the same once our hearts are broken that first time.

Yet, Highsmith gives us that final note of optimism, of a more grown-up, realistic sort of love, and I was so grateful to her for giving us that that I found myself crying.

Now, of course, after finishing the book, I find myself trying to figure out who should be cast in the movie. Carol is the older woman, married, gorgeous, refined and blonde... I say Cate Blanchett. Therese, the young woman who does the growing up... I can't remember how Highsmith described her physically, to be honest, but I pictured her as being darker-haired and serious, so maybe Natalie Portman? I mean, if Jake and Heath can get cast as characters that were meant to be buck-toothed and homely, as Jack and Ennis were in the story, then by all means the much more glamourous characters in TPoS can be this gorgeous.

No comments: