Weak in the Knees

Has anyone else ever read anything that made them weak in the knees? I know I can’t be the only one to have this much of a visceral reaction to reading.

visceral, adj.
1. characterized by or proceeding from instinct rather than intellect
2. characterized by or dealing with coarse or base emotions; earthy; cru

When I read something I react to on said visceral level, it’s like all my sensory/sensual pressure points have been pushed at once. My knees buckle. My eyes want to delicately water. I begin to feel a little dizzy, as if in the presence of an awesome power (with the original meaning of the word, actually inspiring awe). Shivers run up and down my spine, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little turned on.

The involvement of my intellect, engaged in the act of reading something so tremendously brilliant as to affect me thus then short-circuits, so my instincts take over and my body reacts to pleasure in the only way it knows how.

As you might imagine, this can get a little awkward when reading something in public, say, on my lunch break, or taking the bus to work. Luckily, that reaction really is reserved for the ultimate experience. When something written reaches inside of you and touches secret places that somehow combine the security of family, the fresh excitement of new love, the sexual awareness of a beginning relationship, the comfort and warmth of apple pie.

Amy Bloom’s writing does that for me. Primarily her short stories and essays, including one essay on her website entitled “La Divina Commedia“.

I was first introduced to her writing about five years ago. A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You and Come to Me (for which she was a National Book Award nominee) are two of her previous collections of short stories. I’ve been waiting for a new collection ever since.

A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You
Paperback: 9780375705571, Random House, $13.95

Come to Me
Paperback: 9780060995140, Harper, $12

Her latest book of short stories is entitled Where the God of Love Hangs Out.
Hardcover: 9781400063574, Random House, $25

I’m only halfway through, and I couldn’t wait to finish reading it before writing this post. The way she writes about love, life, and relationships is unparalleled in my experience. No judgment, but honest portrayal of real people, real life as we experience it with all the hurt that breaks us down and the tender moments that build us back up and allow us to hope. Amy Bloom makes me believe in love again. The friend who introduced me to Amy Bloom’s writing describes it as “beautiful and compassionate wreckage” – perfect.

Whose writing makes you feel this way?

7 thoughts on “Weak in the Knees

  1. Oh! I love him – thank you for introducing him to me all those years ago. I haven't read About Alice yet, but am currently making my way through The Tummy Trilogy, with appropriate snacks on hand. I need to get some Southern BBQ ribs really soon.

  2. Great post, Rebecca! I experience something similar when reading a really good book. The last time it happened I was reading a short story by David Levithan called A Word From The Nearly Distant Past. It was that good! Have you read anything by Francesca Lia Block?

  3. Thanks, Charlie! I've read Weetzie Bat, which was tremendous, by Francesca Lia Block, and a couple of other things as well. Have you enjoyed her writing? I'm going to have to check out that David Levithan story – I haven't read that one yet.

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