In Theory: Rainbow Rowell and Distance

Hello everyone!

It’s the middle of the week. Monday is a distant memory and Friday is almost close enough to touch.

For me it’s been a week of revisiting Rainbow Rowell in order to tell you about them. You guys, I know I’ve already gushed about them, but bear with me. Rainbow Rowell knocked my socks off. You know feels, you’ve had them before? I’m pretty sure she invented feels and, if she didn’t, she gave them an upgrade. Reading her books is always a treat. Every so often, there will be a phrase that makes you sigh with pleasure. Not because it’s especially clever or well crafted, although it is, but because it’s just right.

“I miss you.”
“That’s stupid,” she said. “I saw you this morning.”
“It’s not the time,” Levi said, and she could hear that he was smiling. “It’s the distance.”

taken from Fangirl

At some point during Fangirl, Cath is rattling off types of love stories and she says “love-before-first-sight stories”. I realized that’s what Rainbow Rowell wrote in Attachments. Lincoln fell in love with Beth before ever speaking with or even laying eyes on her. They develop a history together, but it isn’t exactly a shared history. It’s more like almost parallel stories that end up converging at the end.

On the other hand, the relationship that unfolds in Landline happens through distance that has nothing to do with space and everything to do with time. Georgie talks to Neil in her past, growing closer with him while in the present the other Neal drove away from her.

Fangirl doesn’t have the same kind of distance, instead Cath is emotionally distant because of her anxieties and insecurities. Then Eleanor & Park is all about desperately trying to bridge that distance, about chipping at it until it’s gone then having it resurface out of nowhere. Reading Eleanor & Park was great, even when it felt like swimming against the current, like they were swimming furiously just to stay afloat.

It’s masterful to be able to write about all this space, all this distance only to very gracefully remove it. Her characters never see each other, until they do. There is always a kind of shifting distance between them, like an accordion that stretches and shrinks unexpectedly. Like they’re holding hands across a small, but no less deep abyss. Because there’s no way to deny that there is closeness between all these characters. Even in distance, they manage to be closer than one could ever think possible. It’s kind of brilliant.

She has a new book coming out soon called Carry On based on the fanfiction that Cath writes about Simon Snow. I think it’s going to be different from what she usually does and I can’t wait to see how it comes out! 

Stay beautiful, readers. Until next time!

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