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Ever fallen in love? If so, you might remember some of the feelings: the dizziness, the silliness, the rapture, the idealization that ennobles both the lover and the beloved. Stephen Akey remembers all this and more in his funny, touching, and heartbreaking memoir of his twenty-three years with Lucy Ha Kung, the dazzling Chinese-Philippine graduate student that he meets one spring day in 1980 on the campus of Columbia University. And he also remembers the obverse: the disillusion, the despair, and the wavering determination to make a new life that constitute falling out of love. In between, Akey explores intimacy in all its splendid, mysterious, and maddening guises, in particular those that shape the contours of a fairly representative middle-class marriage taking place in Park Slope, Brooklyn in the 1980s and 1990s. Stephen and Lucy, for most of those twenty-three years, love each other profoundly, but they’re not Tristan and Isolde or Antony and Cleopatra. If anything, they resemble a pair of raccoons in their den: creaturely, furry, and clinging to each other for comfort and security. Raccoon love, like most varieties of Eros, eventually dies. It’s no less sublime for that.
“Raccoon Love is echt Akey—funny and sad, painful and (somehow) affirming. I promise you that you will recognize yourself in this memoir of true intimacy gone awry. When you cringe for the author, you are cringing at the memory of your own foolishness and ineptitude, and when you smile, it’s because you have felt the happiness he once felt, too. Raccoon Love is touching, entertaining, and, in spite of all the jokes and all the tsuris, a wise book.”—Louis Menand, professor of English at Harvard University, is the author of The Metaphysical Club, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in History.
Publishing date: December 29, 2021
Paperback: 234 pages
Dimensions: 7 x 0.54 x 10 inches
Stephen Akey is the author of two previous memoirs, College and Library, and of a collection of essays, Culture Fever. His writings have appeared in The New Republic, The Smart Set, The Millions, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.