The Feast of Love

“The dawn arrived and we all dressed and went home and took showers and then went off to minimum-wage work, dressed in our clothes of the day, our worker’s uniforms, like the worker bees we were. Mostly we all had crummy jobs and mostly in our day to day lives we’re irritable and humble and bummed. We just sit around and watch television and argue about who’s going to the store to get potato chips and ketchup. I’m on, like, the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, as they call it. I can’t do the money thing. That’s not where my power resides. But that night, that summer solstice, we traded in those costumes of nothingness we usually wear for our nakedness, and that’s how we became Gods and Goddesses for a few hours, and of all the Goddesses, I was the supreme one and everybody knew it. They bowed down to me. You would too.”

I could probably say that this book is about life. But then isn’t every book about life and living?
Maybe I could say this book is about love. That’s what the title says and that’s what the protagonist searches for throughout the book. But then again, isn’t every book about love, or the lack of it?
It is about you and me. It is about the fact that our differences make us similar. This is life and we are its beleaguered trespassers.

In The Feast of Love, Baxter brings to life Kathryn, Bradley’s first wife who finds love beyond the standard forms of normalcy. Diana, Bradley’s second wife, moves from being a mistress to a wife and finally a lover. Bradley himself, a man who gives his love to women, who more often than not seem to have left their hearts elsewhere. Baxter also spawns Harry, who is a teacher of philosophy, although not a philosopher (there is a difference you see, between the two) and is happily married to Esther, but there youngest son is their null. Their son’s inner demons are what brings him closer to them and yet takes him away from them. Then there is Chloe and Oscar, who, despite all there youth and modernism, find that their love for one another is as rebellious as it is traditional. Chloe is a girl with a customized name who once met Jesus when she was high. Jesus had asked her for directions.

We all have a path to follow in life. It is the same for each of us, the path of living. It’s just that we all tend to take different directions.

Baxter writes his book with a touch of melancholy or maybe it is merely the disconsolation of the characters that comes through, each of them with a quest to find happiness, and a search of constancy. Love may come in an instant, yet sometimes it may require a bit of travel. Bradley, who’s only constant companion until now has been a dog with the same name, might never find conjugal happiness albeit that does not deter him from getting married again, every two years. Chloe and Oscar, who have not a penny to their names, meet and instantly know that blissful love exists between them and have a wild yet sacrosanct sexual life which ends with Oscar’s demise. A punkette and a former junkie, with a love so pure that it can transform their lives. Kathryn, who finds that it is a woman, and not another man who can make her feel alive again, a woman who can make her emotional and numb at the same time. Diana, who is as soft as a stone and even harder, then one realizes that lovable is not the same as love, and that when you’ve tasted what is good, then almost good is never quite sufficient. Then there is Harry who is a devoted follower of Soren Kierkegaard and uses whatever philosophy he may find to justify his son’s hatred for him.

We’re all living life on our own terms, but does the end justify the means?

Yet, that which is holy for one, may be vile for another. Every soul in Baxter’s book speaks out to us and we can find ourselves in them. A bit of us is in each of the characters of the story. We can see ourselves in the acts that they perform and understand why we do them, for what really matters is realization and nothing more.

I have truly liked what Baxter has written. It is a book worth reading, if not remembering to the least. You learn something from it and sometimes, that is more than enough.

Rohan Malhotra

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