An Equal Music

Years ago, my high school boyfriend presented me with Vikram Seth's An Equal Music as a gift. What occasion the gift was for, I don't remember.  I'd like to think it was Valentine's Day. That holiday would certainly suit the nature of the gift.  Though the digital code on the back lists the book as $29.95, an expensive price tag even for a book today, I'd be willing to bet that he plucked it from the "on sale" table for around ten dollars.  High school boyfriends are usually a lot of things, but "affluent" never seems to be one of them.

I won't bother with long detailed description of the book, as anyone could easily go to its Goodreads page and find out anything necessary to know.  I'll simply describe it in the terms I've learned since I entered the realm of "author."  An Equal Music is a work of contemporary literary fiction that employs a first person, present tense narrative.  It consists of 381 large pages of text.  It's central theme is a second chance love story, but the plot is not limited to merely romance. The ending is bittersweet, but fitting.  Readers' reactions have been polarizing. It's a love or hate kind of story. But me?  I love it.  I love every last bit of it.

I've read this book through about six or seven times now. As an adult, I understand it much better than my sixteen year old self ever could.  It's hard to see it when it's happening, but looking back, An Equal Music seems to have bled into every crevice of my being.  If there was one single book that influenced my writing career - this is it.

Looking over my body of work, it's easy to see: The narration vehicle for the Watermarked series is first person present tense.  A second-chance love story consumes the plot for XO (book 2 of the series). My love for piano-playing characters has spanned both books.  And a bittersweet ending?  Forget about it.  I'm the queen of the bittersweet ending.

Reflecting on An Equal Music's impact has gotten me thinking about all of the books we read, and the influence they have on writing.  From the good stories to the bad, they all leave their marks.  I've started to wonder if my own work is just an amalgam of pieces of other books that I've slapped together and called my own.  There's no way of telling at this point.  The stories are woven so tightly into the threads of my being, we both are one.

Years have passed.  The boyfriend's no longer wearing that title.  I don't think I've ever thanked him for what he gave to me, or that he'd even understand the value of his offhand gift.  Maybe every book dedication from this point forward should belong to him.  If not for him, I'd be an entirely different writer.  As it's unlikely that he's ever read this book, or will ever read any of mine, he'll never know the impact.  So I'll just say thank you from the sixteen year old girl, who didn't know what she was then or what she would become.  Thank you, M, wherever you are.


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