As much as I like to be a cynic about love, it’s pieces of writing like “The Kiss” that serve to remind me just how timeless the topic of love is. I’ve been hopping from one book to another with seemingly nothing to please my impatient head-space. Until this story came to my notice, thanks to Tavi Gevinson’s blurb in Rookie on Love (how I got to reread my old review of Rookie is another story): “I just don’t trust words a whole lot, and wonder if writing this, too, takes the air out of the whole thing, like in the Chekhov story “The Kiss,” where the sad loner shares the story of an improbable romantic encounter with his male colleagues and, upon hearing it out loud, experiences the whole thing as woefully insignificant.”
This loner mindset sounded eerily familiar… It was all I needed to dive straight in. Truthfully, I was waiting to be disappointed like with all my previous readings. Thankfully, I was not.
This book left me in awe. My own words will fail me here so I’m opting to showcase the brilliant way this author can put words to thoughts. I felt seen, which is the one key thing I look for in books. I haven’t felt that in a while. Like, romanticizing someone you met briefly to deflect from your not-so-romantic situation? Check. Completely losing track of what they looked like and reconstructing them in your mind? Check. Realizing you have no idea how to visualize them and feel defeated? Check. Knowing full well that you’re in over your head with a simple encounter and yet still overthinking it? Check.
At first when the brigade was setting off on the march he tried to persuade himself that the incident of the kiss could only be interesting as a mysterious little adventure, that it was in reality trivial, and to think of it seriously, to say the least of it, was stupid; but now he bade farewell to logic and gave himself up to dreams. . . .
This is a gem. Thankfully, there are many capturing moments that I cherished:
Like, thinking of all the reasons you’ll never see them again, but then: The “inner voice,” which so often deceives lovers, whispered to him for some reason that he would be sure to see her . . . and he was tortured by the questions, How he should meet her? What he would talk to her about?
The days flowed by, one very much like another. All those days Ryabovitch felt, thought, and behaved as though he were in love. Every morning when his orderly handed him water to wash with, and he sluiced his head with cold water, he thought there was something warm and delightful in his life.
To add to the glamor of this piece, I have to share this beautiful song cover of Slow Dancing in the Dark.