Search Books:

Join our mailing list:


Recent Articles

The Mystery Murder Case of the Century
by Robert Tanenbaum


Prologue
by Anna Godbersen


Songs of 1966 That Make Me Wish I Could Sing
by Elizabeth Crook


The Opposite of Loneliness
by Marina Keegan


The Skinny on Back Pain: What Does Work and What Doesn't Work
by Patrick Roth


Remembering Ethel Merman
by Tony Cointreau


more>>


She-Rain Puts the Love Back in Love Triangle
By Michael Cogdill,
Author of She-Rain: A Story of Hope

Adultery makes news the way war once did. I have no need here to call names. The above headline alone will send famous faces -- and the images of their attendant heartbreak -- soaring to mind. 

Celebrity love triangles seem as common as our very longing to be loved. I've worked in television news for twenty-five years and have never seen so widespread a herd of big-name libidos running wild. Perhaps it's just more chic now to cover the naked truth of people we wish never to see naked. It is, certainly, magnetic. Viewers and readers pile in.

Yet for all its infotainment, this wide-screen cheat-fest, soaked in hurt and weeping contrition, has a way of attaching despair to us. It makes some good, romping fidelity feel cold, lame, and doomed -- or, at least, un-cool. Cheating, or being cheated upon, may begin to feel inevitable. I wonder how many people in devoted relationships secretly fear themselves left out. Even the most sympathetic witnesses to the heartbreak of a scandalized relationship may honestly feel they're missing the fun. A real and lasting love can appear as likely as the NBC Nightly News with Conan O'Brien.

But what if we discovered a radical kind of love? A genre of it so seismic, it can rumble bodies and souls off to a mostly undiscovered Eden -- a place where longings and lasting relationships make fine steamy love, mingling differing forms of it we never thought possible. Temptation, desire, and ripe fidelity get along mighty well.

In She-Rain, I allow some young people to grow old in showing us a way there. They live as young hearts longing for one another and, ultimately, they long for the very best for each other. Their lust is as common as hunger, strong as sunlight, sprung from the adoration we've all known. Some good science shows run-amok romantic love grows from brain chemistry akin to obsessive compulsive disorder. Pedro Calderon de la Barca believed love that is not madness is not love. Frank, Mary Lizbeth, and Sophia -- as they made their way through my imagination -- feel this madness as an irresistible agony.

But in that sweet madness, they turn a love triangle into a constellation of stunning hope. Their natural human longing transforms their hearts on a tide of forgiveness and a daring to believe they can grow a three-way beauty where hell-raising malice normally scorches the ground. These Faulknerian hearts in conflict reveal just how far we all can go toward happiness on our feet of clay.

I believe hearts are like minds. They tend to lie fallow, their best parts unexplored, rarely used for their greatest good. Readers of She-Rain discover three survivors of crunching hard times who venture far into what the heart can hold. There to find that we human creatures -- so prone to slay ourselves with yearning, envy and revenge -- hold enormous capacity for, I'll dare label it, sensual fidelity, and even greater than this.

I have chosen to tell a scandalous Southern tale. A love story like no other. In it, all are flawed, love at times seems the most malignant insanity, and people practically sun themselves in tragedies of the early 20th Century -- many of which still make news today. Yet in She-Rain, three people clear themselves a way to love that seems impossible. They prove that disgrace, in the face of temptation, is not inevitable. Living imperfect lives of defiance, two women in love with the same man create a wonder of the least expected. In this fiction, I believe we see a truth about ourselves.  We catch sight of what's possible. Mary Elizabeth and Sophia, women ahead of their time, show the way.

That defiance in She-Rain draws from my boyhood reality. Growing up in the home of an alcoholic father who kept the air charged with the threat of violence, I saw love as an act of miserable sacrifice. Sociologists might have presumed such a boy would devolve into a man on the same path -- sentencing the women in my life to the same abuses. The opposite occurred. By the great virtue of strong women who raised me -- helped by a World War I veteran who showed me the power of living as a gentle man -- I became a celebrator of women, rejecting the fundamentalism that too often sentences women and children to death in the name of family. I abandoned a father who was hell-bent on destroying himself, and that act generated an accountability that saw him hit bottom and bounce, beautifully. He became sober and forgiven -- a man whose memory my mother and I love and honor deeply to this day. She-Rain is dedicated, in parts, to the love of them.

Yet I owe the novel's most radical love to another powerful woman, my wife Jill, a muse who inspired both women in the love triangle. She remains the young idealist I fell nearly instantly in love with in 1985. I tried to marry her so fast I nearly spooked her father into moving her away. Yet a few years into the writing of She-Rain, before the triangle occurred to me, I found an utterly new woman emerging in her. Out of her original strength -- a survivor of some hard domestic times herself -- a stronger woman came. Rather than aging, she's become a constant re-creation of herself, one of stunning beauty and grace I try to deserve. In She-Rain, she inspired the wisdom of measuring ourselves not by where we come from or how often we fall, but by the legacy of what we can become, how well we can matter to someone else. She deserves the plural title loves of my life.

Which brings me to the title of She-Rain; it derives from an Appalachian folklore term for a scrap of fog that breaks from a cloud to drift on the mountain treetops. It takes on the delicate look of lace, surrendered to the wind, and that surrender reminds us of a higher order to which we can yield. Hard times, most certainly in relationships, are inevitable. Yet we are not doomed to a hard fall. Through the clash of body and soul, above the warring of our inner good and evil, we can soar.

In the novel, I chose to put this first on display in a simple act of love between two desperately poor children. Out of their terrible times, one of them poor to the point of hunger, they respect and serve one another -- creating a form of love so radical it defies words. As it evolves into young adulthood, that love grows more familiar to what we know as the longings behind every sex scandal ever known. Yet a young man, soon to find himself in love with two women at once, respects himself enough to harbor a sacrosanct kind of respect for them. He becomes man enough to allow both women to improve him. This love triangle helps yank him from the swamp of ignorance and violence into which he was born, and sets him on a path to a greatness no one sees coming.

This young man, Frank Locke, Junior, your narrator in She-Rain, lives a lifetime in one of the ironic truths of sacrificial young love: It refuses to grow old and weary as we do. The feel of it sweetens with age, improves us, even as we stumble and fall and crave forgiveness, often failing to live up to its high ideal. I won't spoil the story by letting you know which woman he shares the majority of his life with, or the full impact both women have on the man he becomes. Though I leave you with a few of his words, written from his teenage memory of one of those women he adores. In this passage of She-Rain lives the yearning that can scandalize a man, alongside the devotion that can fortify him. In this, a young man coming of age in a terrible time celebrates his early joy of a fine woman's love, letting the music of her own fill all rooms of his then-broken heart.

"Seeing her braced me to the bone, yet moved a sweet pain through to the marrow ­-- as if we had been apart years instead of days. The dark curls in a tide around her face, skin colored in shades of creek sand, deep with summer and the force of a seventeen-year-old heart. Her eyes shone wet and bright as a long mountain view after rain -- at once delicate and strong, refusing to grant sorrow or malice a bed of its own. Even in that cemetery, in the hardness of the time, every line that formed her, everything she was, begged for a fingertip. She was, to me, perfect satisfaction. A near-­holy place of rest."

© 2010 Michael Cogdill, author of She-Rain: A Story of Hope

Author Bio
Michael Cogdill is blessed as one of the most honored television storytellers in America. His cache of awards includes 24 Emmys and the National Edward R. Murrow for a broad range of achievement, from live reporting to long-form storytelling. His television credits as a journalist include CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show, and Michael's interview history crosses a wide horizon: The Reverend Billy Graham, Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Abby Hoffman, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, Howard K. Smith, James Brown, Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and many other newsmakers. His coverage credits include Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States.

Michael spent ten years writing She-Rain, letting it evolve into a world of fiction drawn from his upbringing in Western North Carolina but reaching far beyond. His other writing credits are Cracker the Crab and the Sideways Afternoon -- a children's motivational book, and a self-help volume, Raise the Haze. Michael makes his home in South Carolina with his wife, Jill (a publishing entrepreneur), and their second-generation golden retriever, Maggie. He's currently working on his second novel.

For more information, please visit http://she-rain.blogspot.com.