Tag Archives: Animal Dreams

“I Keep Marrying Narcissistic Colombians”

Dear Literopathy,

Here’s my problem: I keep marrying Colombians with varying degrees of NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). No seriously. Stop laughing.

Recommended reading to resolve a fucked up love life?


Your Twice-Divorced (Irish) Twitter Friend

Dear TD(I)TF,

When love fails again and again, it’s easy to give in to the idea that it just wasn’t meant to be in this lifetime—that somehow love is meant for other people. For people who know how to do it “right.”

We call bullshit.

Narcissistic Colombians are a problem—no one is denying it. But so are narcissistic Americans, Canadians, and—we suspect—even Lithuanians. They’re everywhere, and they’re really good at pretending and at preying on hope.

That’s why our prescription for you is Barbara Kingsolver’s 1990 novel, Animal Dreams. Its protagonist, Cosima “Codi” Noline, is all out of hope when she returns to her home town of Grace, Arizona. She never got the hang of love, and frankly, she’s over it. The fact that her high school sweetheart, Loyd, is still living in Grace, still hot, and seems to have grown up into a decent human is not an issue at all, because Codi isn’t staying.

The problem is, she doesn’t know where she’s going.

And really, where do we, any of us, think we’re going when we’re so certain that the solution lies somewhere else? Somewhere outside of us?

Maybe what we’re looking for won’t be found in whatever place we’re aiming to reach, but rather in the effort that it takes to get there. Maybe it’s the journey that keeps us going. Or, as Codi’s sister Hallie tells her,

What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in and out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?’

While researching this book for you, we ran across a review on Good Reads that seemed to sum up why this book is—and books in general are—good medicine:

“It’s probably silly to say that the moral of a story is that sometimes life chooses you, since fictional characters are by nature figments of imagination, and get to enjoy the plotting out and tidying up that their authors are wont to do for them. But maybe belief in fiction is an extension of belief in an interventionist God.

Maybe the reason this book left me sobbing and shaken is that it gives the right answer. Isn’t that why we read novels — in the hopes that someone else’s imagined life will provide the answers for our own questions? We take books like medicine. But like medicine, it’s still practice … no one’s promising that this time, this cure will work for me, or for you. We can only keep trying for that perfect, elusive match of cure to symptom.” 

TD(I)TF, our hope for you is that Codi Noline speaks to that part of you that, perhaps, thinks love is a lie or meant for someone else. We hope this book provides that spark of fire within you that rekindles every bit of hope and love those narcissists stole from you.

Or, as Barbara Kingsolver wrote in Animal Dreams,

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.