I thought I'd have some guest pieces to celebrate the release of Trying To Be So Quiet, and I wanted to feature some writers that I've not had on the blog before. The theme came to me when Claire, who works for Boo Books, was interviewing me about TTBSQ and said she thought it was a love story as much as a ghost story. So a plan was born: I'd ask some horror writers who I especially admire to write a piece about their favourite love story. It could be a novel, poem, song; it could be happy, sad or despairing. Today's piece is by...
Chloe N. Clark, a writer whose work I first read in Supernatural Tales #25, where I thought her story Who Walks Beside You was fantastic; I voted for her in the ST best story poll for that issue. Additionally she's had work published in Apex, Bartleby Snopes, Diabolical Plots, and Menacing Hedge. She also writes for Nerds of a Feather and Ploughshares. She can be followed on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes.
Take it away, Chloe:
Trying to think of the single love story that has the most impact on me is hard. It’s hard because I’m maybe more of an anti-romantic (and read “maybe” as “positively”) and also because while I certainly can name love songs/poems/stories/films that are meaningful to me, I’m not really sure that I find them meaningful because they are love stories. So I decided to tackle the roundabout way of thinking about this subject. What love story really meant something to me because of the love story at its center?
The obvious choice seemed to be the love stories about friendships that always have called to me: Aubrey and Maturin in Patrick O’ Brian’s series of novels about naval warfare or the four boys in Stephen King’s The Body. These are some of the most impactful books on my life and my writing.
However, these choices didn’t feel quite right either and then I thought about films and then I knew what to write about. Tarsem Singh’s 2006 film The Fall is not only one of my favorite films but also one of the purest evocations of love. The love in this case isn’t a romantic one, though there is a melancholic one of those at the center, but rather the love of storytelling itself.
The plot of the movie is a friendship between an injured stuntman and a little girl, at a hospital in 1920’s Los Angeles. However, within this frame narrative is the story told by the stuntman to the little girl: a story of betrayal and bandits. Singh’s visual aesthetic has never been better (honestly, this is the only film I truly love—or even enjoy—by him though I can appreciate the visual scope of a film like The Cell) and it’s easy to get lost in the gorgeousness of the colors and imagery here.
However, where the film truly stands out is in its depiction of how story can shape us and change us and ultimately betray us or save us just as much as any other kind of love. Lee Pace, as the stuntman, is phenomenal and then there’s the young Catinca Untaru as the little girl—and her performance is heartbreakingly stunning. Each of them plays a character who is so enthralled by stories, whether making them up or hearing them, that the rest of the world—and the logic and morality of it—falls away. Stories can convince us to do many things. They can also bring us back from the brink—of despair, of loneliness, of hopelessness.
To me, this film does exactly what any love story should do: it convinces you that there is something worth believing in. In this case, that something is the power of narrative, of telling tales. And, ultimately, that seems the most fitting love story for any writer to get behind.