Sophies Choice by William StyronWe are like lutes once held by God.
Being away from His warm body
fully explains our constant yearning.
I started Sophies Choice in a busy hotel lobby, awaiting my visiting sisters arrival, having no idea I was going to be immediately introduced to a 22-year-old Southerner named Stingo and the first of his many erections.
His erections? What?
I went into this read almost “blind,” knowing only that the author, William Styron, received the Pulitzer for fiction in 1968 for The Confessions of Nat Turner and that this novel, Sophies Choice (published in 1979) would attract more attention as a movie than a book. Most of us would come to think of Meryl Streep as Sophie whether we saw the film or not. (I didnt).
So, back to the busy lobby, where Im sweating out the first of Stingos erections and looking around the room, wondering if anyone has any idea what Im reading (they didnt), and even though I was tickled beyond belief to find humor and sexuality in a book that I thought took place in Poland during the Holocaust, I was also totally confused.
Wait, this is funny? (So funny!)
This is sexy? (Oh, SO sexy!)
But, I thought this was about Meryl Streep (er, I mean Sophie Zawistowska) and her making some awful choice during the Holocaust?!
Yes, its about that, too, but its also about Stingo, the 22-year-old virgin in 1947 who just CANT GET LAID.
Poor Stingo. Before I knew it, I was on every date with him, from the pious Christian virgins to the overanalyzed Jewish cock teases (his words), with him for every deplorable hand job and every salivating moment when he wondered. . . will it happen tonight??
By the time the voluptuous, highly sexualized Sophie enters his life. . . you cant help but think. . . Oh, its her, its got to be her!
And while youre spending most of your time wondering if Stingo is FINALLY going to get lucky with Sophie, you then meet Sophies beau, Nathan Landau, and, even though Nathan “was utterly, fatally glamorous,” you realize that hes in the way of Stingos sexual dreams, which puts him in the way of the plot. . . but, wait. . . what is the plot anyway?
What starts to unravel, ever so cleverly, ever so smoothly, is that Stingo losing his virginity is NOT the plot.
And, man, can Mr. Styron reveal a big picture.
Turns out that Mr. Styron is using sex as a metaphor; that all of our yearning for physical intimacy represents our bigger desire to be One, and yet the irony is. . . our excessive procreation then creates a crowded planet that disrupts us and divides us and causes things like genocide and war.
We are so complicated, we humans. We walk through most of our days and nights dazed and confused, barely conscious of what we are or our true potential.
As Sophie says to Stingo, as they are standing on a beach, observing a small crowd, “Those strange creepy people, all picking at their little. . . scabs.”
Yes, scabs. Most of what we pick at are scabs.
But, this book, this writer, does a tremendous job of showing his reader so much, and so much more than scabs. He held on to the complicated reins of these plot lines like a master, and even though this is a long and sometimes heavy book, he always found a way to perk me back up with some cookies and juice.
The “cookies and juice” in this story were the sex scenes, and the novel concludes with one of the most decadent, well-written scenes between a man and a woman that Ive ever encountered. I actually had to ask my children to please leave the room and then I had to hover above the air-conditioner vent for a few minutes (Im not kidding). Holy, holy.
But, folks, a lot of bad shit happens here on this planet, and we can do a lot worse to each other than participate in consensual sex between adults. Some might even argue that its a gift, given to us by God.
And you beside me, blessed now while sirens sing to us, stealthily weave us into day. . .
And, in case it isnt clear. . . I loved this beautiful book.
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Stingo Peter MacNicol , a young writer, moves to Brooklyn in to begin work on his first novel. Flashbacks reveal her harrowing story, from pre-war prosperity to Auschwitz. In the present, Sophie and Nathan's relationship increasingly unravels as Stingo grows closer to Sophie and Nathan's fragile mental state becomes ever more apparent. Fancy watching ' Sophie's Choice ' on your TV or mobile device at home? Tracking down a streaming service to buy, rent, download, or view the Alan Pakula-directed movie via subscription can be challenging, so we here at Moviefone want to help you out.
Meryl Streep essays another foreign accent in this overwrought melodrama.
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It isn't here, but it might as well be. Extras stroll through Rockaway's Playland in vintage summer clothes, the women wearing impeccable 40's makeup and hairdos. Little girls in ringlets play catch for the camera, then slip anachronistically into down jackets between takes, since the morning is chilly.
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