R. Cooper: Checking out Love

R. Cooper--Checking Out LoveJeremy was hipped to an item in the special collections at a private library and he, a man of endless curiosity, was dying to see it. He’d also heard about the librarian who managed the tomes and artifacts–he was supposed to be a tyrant of sorts, strict and demanding. But Jeremy thought that the book (or books)–the diary of a young Mexican girl who lived during the nineteenth century and studied and wrote about the languages of the cultures around her and possibly even made up her own–was worth coming face to face with the guy who he’d decided to call the Beast.

The library itself was awesome, the diary made it even more so, but he was also a little intrigued by the idea of the boot camp librarian. Jeremy’s first visit was all he’d imagined, except for the lack of Beast sightings. But in the way of staff, it wasn’t a total bust, with the aid of some unintentional flirting, he’d managed to acquaint himself with a patient and helpful guy who he eventually came to know as Benj. He was tall, broad, and very attractive, but not Jeremy’s type. Jeremy usually chased guys who were outwardly ambitious and intellectually antagonistic, often challenging Jeremy to a battle of genius. Not that having a type had ever done him any good, because they never stuck around. He was always too weird, too smart, and often simply too much for them. Benj, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind Jeremy’s verbal surfeits, but with him also being soft spoken, quick to blush, prone to frowning, serious-looking, and a wearer of hand-knit cardigans, he was definitely not Jeremy’s type.

But tell that to the butterflies fluttering about the confines of his torso that only got worse with each visit. Jeremy knew things were getting out of hand when he started thinking about what he and Benj could get up to in the stacks. But he knew he was in serious trouble when his thoughts began favoring what they could do outside the library–getting up optional.

Benj, for his part, was puzzled by the whole thing. The whole thing being Jeremy. He took in his appearance–worn clothes, leather jacket, and crash helmet to go along with the motorbike he must own–and you got the feeling he thought Jeremy was out of place. But who knows what he was really thinking, seeing as he said so little.

One day, Jeremy visited the library not too long before closing and the woman at the desk on main floor gave him a heads up that the librarian on the second floor was in a foul mood. Jeremy tried to contain his excitement as he made his way upstairs. Expertly severe words coming from a stern voice met him halfway and urged him forward. And when the Beast–rather, Leland, so read the nameplate on his desk–was finally in full view, just like his first day at the library, he was all that Jeremy hoped he would be. And more. Once the focus of the Beast’s disdain was permanently dismissed, Jeremy’s mind jumped warp speed into his future with said librarian, including a possible June wedding.

Oh, but how can Jeremy choose between patient, blushing & hot Benj and viciously sharp & hot Leland? You’re on you’re own for the answer to that, because I think it’s worth the read.

As I read the first few pages, I was bothered by the endless account of Jeremy’s ride to the library–I actually couldn’t keep my eyes open, though I’m not entirely sure if the rhythm of the prose droned or if I was beyond tired. The next morning I thought to give it another chance and I powered through the seemingly ceaseless report. Now, I don’t generally mind descriptive passages, but this was a short story, so I thought that it was kind of heavy-handed. But then, as I got to know Jeremy more and I got to see that this was how he saw the world, that this was truly what was going on in his head–so many things all at once, so many details to absorb and catalogue, it was easier to digest. Once I got used to that, everything was good.

I think the story was great, but the weight of all the details and commentary might present something of a reading curve for those who prefer their minutia to be interspersed with dialogue. I liked Jeremy and Benj and their quite vs loud chemistry. I also liked Leland–though he was a pretty much a fata morgana for most of the story–with Jeremy. Their dynamic was more provocative & rhapsodic passion vs fiery & righteous passion. I’d love to see more of both.

Other things that endeared the story to me was that it was set in a library–how great is that? People’s interest in information and history were practically of a salacious sort. I’m down with that. Even better was that they were interested in the mind of a young girl because there were wonderful things to be found there, and then, because of the way Cooper described certain things, it was pretty clear that white was not the default.

I took a glance at Cooper’s other works and it seems like there’s more of those sorts of things to be had, so I plan to take a closer look.

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