Name and role at the Press: Margie Guerra, Assistant to the Director and Subsidiary Rights Administrator
Book selection, and why: Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled
There are many reasons why I’m excited about Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled by Michael Cobb, but the main one has to do with Eleanor Rigby. The Beatles don’t give us a whole lot of information about her in the song, just the vitals: Eleanor’s been known to (creepily) collect rice in churches where happy couples were just married. When she died, nobody came to the funeral. Oh, and she keeps her face “in a jar by the door.” Is loneliness what drove Eleanor to be so odd? How should I think about this strange lady? Why is Eleanor’s being alone both frightening and sad all at the same time? (And will my face fall off if I’m single for too long?!)
In some ways, Michael Cobb’s Single is the antidote to those horrible feelings you get when listening to “Eleanor Rigby.” In Single, Cobb aims to understand why singledom – that is, the state of being single – is perceived as a threat to the social fabric; why it’s thought of as a “problem” to be “solved” by entering into a couple. (Anyone who has experienced the discomfort of being the “third wheel” has felt the ripple-effect of this sort of thinking.) Cobb makes his case by deftly examining singleness in a wide range of literary, cultural, philosophical, andpsychoanalytical texts; he looks at work (textual and otherwise) by Plato, Freud, Ralph Ellison, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Morrissey, Georgia O’Keeffe, Hannah Arendt to the Bible, Sex and the City, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” and HBO’s Big Love. Cobb questions the “supremacy of the couple form,” and asks the reader to think about singles – in literature and in life, for Ms. Rigby and her real-life counterparts – as less menacing, less pathetic figures.
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