Jennifer Grayle: She was the campus golden girl, so rich, so pretty, that every boy wanted to take her out. Except Boone. He wanted to marry her.
John Merchent: He was tall and blond with blue eyes and a cleft in his chin like Cary Grant's. He didn't have Boone's lively imagination, but he had something else: Jennifer.
Praise for Love and Glory
“[Robert] Parker writes with economy and precision and wit and passion. . . . Love and Glory [is] one of the best love stories I've ever encountered.”—The Press-Chronicle
“A straightforward, unrelenting, shamelessly romantic novel that's about a two-year obsession. . . . It works . . . [and] love stories that work are almost an extinct breed. Almost.”—Santa Cruz Sentinel
“Parker's writing is like fine architecture or music—it's both intricate and direct. There are no false notes.”—Chicago Sun-Times
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Date of Birth:September 17, 1932
Date of Death:January 18, 2010
Place of Birth:Springfield, Massachusetts
Place of Death:Cambridge, Massachusetts
Education:B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971
Read an Excerpt
In memory it seems someone else, a boy in a glen plaid suit and a lime green shirt chewing gum with a cigarette behind his ear while he danced awkwardly with a girl who made his stomach buzz, and Frankie Laine sang “Black Lace” on the record player. But it wasn’t someone else, it was me, or at least the beginning of me. It was the evening I was born: an embryonic kid with his hair slicked back, I danced, for the first time, with Jennifer Grayle; and the flowering of my soul was forever wed to a vision of possibility so gorgeous and unspeakable that even now it seems a trick of time and memory. No child could have felt what I felt. And yet … the buzz in my stomach has buzzed for thirty years and buzzes still, an implacable thrill of passion and purpose that has galvanized me like the touch of God’s finger on Adam’s inert hand.
As we danced at that freshman dance in the early fall of 1950, it was as if the still serpentless meadows of Eden spread out around us. We are east of Eden now, full of knowledge. We know that lambs and lions will not gambol, if they ever did, in a green eternity. But we know much more than that, and some of what we know is worth mortality.
I had gone from an unaffluent city up to Colby College in September of 1950, virginal, full of fantasy, and nearly devoid of social graces, to major in English and become a writer. I wasn’t scared. I’d been away before. I knew I’d make friends, but I was frightened of girls and the freshman dance made me anxious. None of us knew one another yet. We had no gang to hang with in a corner, to play to as we danced. No one whose approval we had tested and could count on. My name tag, pinned to my wide lapels, said HI, MY NAME’S BOONE ADAMS, WHAT’S YOURS? Wearing it made me feel like a perfect asshole, but everyone was wearing theirs.
She was wearing a black dress and there was a sort of richness about her, a density of presence that made her seem more tangible than other people. At eighteen I thought she looked sexy. Chewing three sticks of Juicy Fruit, I swaggered over and asked her to dance. Bravado.
She danced as badly as I did. We were barely able to maneuver the floor.
She said, “Are you enjoying Colby so far?”
“Yeah, sure, it’s okay,” I said. “Where you from?”
I danced as close as I could. I thought it was a way to make out. Her thighs moved against me, and I could feel the faint masking slickness of her slip.
“Yeah?” I said. “I know a guy in Marblehead. Moved there from New Bedford. Frankie Gonsalves. You know him?”
“I don’t think so,” she said. I pressed a little harder against her. “What does his father do?”
“His old man’s dead,” I said. “His old lady works in a fish market, I think. He’s a real hot shit.”
She didn’t cringe at the swear word. Did that mean she’d come across? I’d always harbored the hope that girls who swore also screwed.
“I don’t think I know him,” she said. “Did he go to Marblehead High?”
“I think he dropped out.”
The record ended. We stood for a moment. Then she said, “Well, thank you very much. I hope we’ll get to know each other better.”
“Yeah, maybe we should grab a few beers together sometime, huh?”
“Yes, that would really be fun,” she said. And then she walked back to the side of the room where the girls congregated. I walked back and stood among the boys I didn’t know yet. I took the cigarette from behind my ear and put it in the corner of my mouth and snapped a paper match with one hand and lit the cigarette. I leaned my back against the wall with my hands in my pockets, and hooked my right heel over the molding ledge, and smoked my cigarette without taking it from my mouth. Cool.
My thighs felt thick and hot where hers had brushed them and the light and only occasional touch of her lower belly against me as we danced seemed now to continue. I thought about her looking up at me in the moonlight with her eyes slitted and her mouth half open, her arms around my neck her head thrown back her breath smelling of champagne; a soft wind that smelled of distant violets stirred her hair. Across the room I saw her being asked to dance. She smiled and went to the floor with a tall kid from Long Island whose name I didn’t know. He knew how to dance.
I watched her looking up at him and smiling. I should have asked her again. Maybe after this number. I could feel myself shrinking inside. She moved about the floor with the kid from Long Island. The music ended. He said something, she laughed, and he left her with the girls. NOW. Hi, Jennifer, care to try it again? The new record came on. Something by Les Brown and His Band of Renown. Several of the girls she was with went to the dance floor. She was alone for a moment; she looked around. NOW. Why not now? She moved toward another group of girls. I lit a new cigarette in the corner of my mouth and walked slowly out of the room and back across the campus with the smoke stinging my eyes and my stomach knotted with something like fear and something like grief. The dark sky was very very high and I was very far from home and very very small.