The Crying Game: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept Review

Photo does not belong to me
Photo does not belong to me

I will not lie. I bought this book for its cover. Somebody mentioned it on Twitter and I went looking for it on Amazon where I fell in love with the cover for the very first time – well, what can I say? Sometimes I can be a very shallow girl.

I regret nothing.

From the get go this book is charged with longing. It feels almost voyeuristic to be party to such overwhelming emotion that doesn’t belong to you. Nevertheless, it’s gorgeous and honest; and it feels (a lot) like those days as a young ‘un when you wanted someone so badly but couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve been there, you’ve probably been there.

So it’s with that in mind that I plow through this breathtaking book. It’s not an easy read by any measure. The prose-poetry format is hard going and sometimes distracts you from the plot, which if you really think about it, is flimsy to say the least. All you really need to fathom though, from Smart’s beautiful words are the love she feels. And the despair, the regret; she feels it all (thank you Feist for this reference).

Just look at it!

A bit about the history of this book. BGCSISDAW was first published in 1945 and is generally considered a literary classic. It details (but not much) Canadian author, Elizabeth Smart’s romance with the poet George Barker, whose small book of poetry she is alleged to have one day discovered on the shelf of a bookstore.

When I first started to think about this review I got to thinking a lot about the nature of the love story. Of the ‘Meet Cute’ and the exact circumstances/moment in which a person ‘just knows’.

This is an unusual and tumultuous love story that deserves it’s place on the page, but is it as extraordinary as it’s legend has you believe? Probably. How can one woman spout such unbelievable prose about something that doesn’t? I am awed by the writing.

My pondering also led me to this thought: how many great romantic tales are there out there that nobody will ever know about? There should be a law that if you have an incredible story you have to legally submit it for public record.

I digress, of course. The book begins when Smart flies both Barker and his wife to the USA from Japan to join her. Well, I didn’t say this was going to be easy.

I don’t want to say much more other than it’s worth a read. The writing will blow you away if you love language as much as I do  and I honestly think it’s an experience you should have as a book lover. In some ways, I wish all books were like this because it’s very pretty. I definitely wish all book covers looked like this.

You can currently score a copy on Amazon for around £2.81 (used)  if you don’t mind waiting for it to be shipped from the US.

Book details:

Memoirs of a Pogonophile

My name is Mrs Bee and I’m a Beardoholic.tumblr_n3kimfU4xx1sqzgnao4_500

Yeah I know, right? Big wow. Every hipster and his mum is sporting glorious facial hair these days and there is no shortage of female attention buzzing around them as a result. The beard is having its moment and who knows where it will end, if indeed it ever does.

I hope it doesn’t because I get a case of the weak knees most days as I browse the fruit section in Morrisons and a rough and ready Ricki Hall-alike bumps into me whilst squawking into his phone. That chin mane has given him an edge that he probably doesn’t deserve but I can’t be mad at him. He’s seen his window and has the ability to grow a garden on his face, good luck to him I say.

So where did this sudden obsession come from? I know I have always had a weird childish theory that you can always trust a man with a beard.

Ghengis Khan, Charlie Manson and Rolf Harris (say it ain’t so!) have so far proven me wrong on that score, but my prepubescent self longed for a bearded father figure to come along and give me all the answers. Growing up without a Dad around has surely set a precedent for me, take that as you will.

I think all my life I have secretly been dealing with Daddy Issues and I don’t mean that in the sinister sense it suggests. I just mean, a few times I have made decisions (bad ones) because I have (wrongly) assumed that certain people will answer the call within. Basically, when I have needed to be looked after, or have a firm hand to guide me, I have looked to somebody older or (seemingly) wiser to help me with that – and it has turned out disastrously.

Boy, this post turned personal, didn’t it?

But that isn’t about beards really, I just wanted to illustrate that I’m a girl who wishes she had her father around but doesn’t and so I believe this is part of the reason I am attracted to men with beards.

My father had a glorious, Che Guevara-esque beard that made him look distinguished and beatnik and mysterious all at the same time. When I grew up, I was sure I wanted to be with someone as wonderful as my dad, who would be capable of making me as happy as he made my mother.

And I am. I really did luck out when Mr Bee came along because suddenly I was hit with the weirdest feeling of all, once the thunderbolt smoke had cleared: pure peacefulness. That’s the best way to describe real love if you ask me: it feels like peace.

Mr Bee is everything my dad was; gentle and interested in new things. Well read. A romantic. All the things I wanted in my life partner and more than enough to fill my heart with a long-term hope that our life will be a good one.

And full-bearded. He’s currently very full-bearded indeed!

I will say this though, in defense of men who choose not to have beards, or cannot grow them, all those “Real Men Have Beards” type memes that are flopping about the internet: so not cool. Where it’s unacceptable to disparage a thinner woman for not being ‘womanly’, this is the same thing surely? A man is a man is a man – as all women are real women.

What my childhood self didn’t understand is that the essence of man is not necessarily caught up in one aspect of his appearance. Beards are good and sexy and wild to me, but the actual man beneath doesn’t have to scream and grunt to prove his manliness. I may associate a beard with protection and love, but it’s the heart and soul beneath that will prove that.

What’s your ‘thing’?