The song, “Unlove Me,” by Julie Roberts starts like this:
Unloose this hold you’ve got on me
Unlock this heart that can’t get free
Unlive the night you kissed and hugged me
Undream the dreams that we both shared
Unfeel the feelin’ that you cared
Before you leave me, please unlove me
Every time I hear it, I want to write a backwards love story – to have a couple unlove – and to do it, as the song suggests, … real slow, so I don’t have to lose you all at one time. And then I think how it’s a similar idea to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
And now, I just read But I Love Him, by Amanda Grace. Interesting format. This is the painful love story of Ann and Connor. Connor is an abusive boyfriend and we see him at his worst from the start – and then move backwards in the relationship to see how Ann ended up in this situation. Woven within the vignettes, moving from the end of the relationship to the thrill of falling and love, to the random chance meeting, there are also moments of now (the end) woven through, that go in “real time” waiting for Ann to decide what to do now. Each vignette is labeled with how much time into the year-long relationship has passed.
It’s definitely a provocative idea. And, sadly, plenty of girls/women end up in negative relationships – that could progress to violence. I think this would be a good one for teen reading groups to discuss.
But I have to confess… I read the first third or so and then had to go to the end and read it backwards. Which meant reading it as a more traditional story line after all. Even though I love the idea, and knew what I was getting into, I found the order a little frustrating. I kept looking for something to connect one scene to the next. And I didn’t get what the real time scenes were doing. At first I thought it was a printing mistake putting the chapters out of order.
The teen-girl had no problem with the format and read it quickly.
For more thoughts on the order of things… see Julie Larios’s post on Write at Your Own Risk.
Speaking of risks, I do want to say that I admire the risk taken by Amanda Grace (pen name for Mandy Hubbard) for trying this format. Exciting stuff to try new things.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK