Byron in Love: A Short Daring LifeByron in Love: A Short Daring Life by Edna O’Brien
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

byron is just not that into you. it doesn’t matter what you do—he’s not gonna be into you. he might put his baby in you, but he will leave you as soon as you start going into labor and return only to shoot bottles in your living room while you strain and bleed to produce a creature he will hardly look at. because he is not into you. he will allow you to risk your life by being his mistress while your husband, who has already buried two wives under suspicious circumstances, watches and fumes. because he does not care about you. he will seduce you while letting you believe it was all your idea and then take the resulting child and pop it into a convent where it will die without you ever getting to see it again. because he doesn’t give a shit about you. he will allow you to destroy your place in society and humiliate yourself in order to try to regain the few months of passion he allowed you and then smirk as he reads the book you wrote about him as your dignity recedes further and further. because he does not care for you at all. and why not? because you are not his sister. end of story.

byron is like one of those plants in nature that pretends to be something beautiful and broken in order to lure a would-be predator in before attacking. so what is it about him that fascinates me so? is it that his relationship with lady melbourne/lady frances mirrors the plot of my beloved les liaisons dangereuses? is it the purely cinematographic allure of the wedding-night bed on fire and byron believing himself to be in hell? is it the cruelties inflicted for no reason other than his own selfish unconcern for anything outside himself? what makes me adore byron, but want to smack tucker max like crazy? is it just the talent of his writing? it is distance? or fashion? because in reality, i would never become involved with a man who drank from skulls and had bears and wolves and monkeys running around while his anorexic highness forced me to watch him bed his sister and shoot our chandelier with his pistols. i have tried to mostly avoid the overly dramatic lunatic when picking partners. however, if byron came knocking, who can say?

if this is going to be your only bio of byron, i say go for it. for you, it is four stars worth. for me, i am going to see if i can get my hands on that three-volume leslie marchand biography and see about putting this moth-to-a-candle thing he has going on for me to rest.
a temporary, partial review until i get back to ny. i’m a little over the halfway point of reading—i expect train ride home will finish this off for me, if i am able to break my weeklong stretch of not being able to concentrate on any book for more than 4.3 minutes. however, the thing that is striking to me at this point, as someone who has read a fair amount of byron: primary sources, bios, fictional bodice-rippers, etc.—is her lack of self-awareness. she at one point quotes one of byron’s earliest reviews for his poetry:

We would entreat him to believe that a certain portion of liveliness, somewhat of fancy, is necessary to constitute a poem, and that a poem in the present day, to be read, must contain at least one thought, either in a little degree different from the ideas of former writers or differently expressed.

so far, i’m not sure what she brings to the table with this book that i haven’t read elsewhere. it’s such a small-sized biography for such a huge life. it’s just—except for the lollipop-color byron on the cover, i don’t know what makes this stand out. but i have my journey ahead of me—i’ll let you know at the other end.

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