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Rapture (2003)

Rapture (2003)
2.94 of 5 Votes: 5
0007141769 (ISBN13: 9780007141760)
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Rapture (2003)
Rapture (2003)

About book: "Rapture" is a short story by Susan Minot that tells the tale of two lovers, Kay and Benjamin, and how they come to terms with where they stand in the present. The most development in the story is told through the past events shared between the two. Benjamin, a director that's having a tough time getting off the ground, struggles to figure out what it means to love. He also utilizes women for his own pleasure, with only Kay (the other protagonist) and his ex-fiancé, Vanessa, having any true merit to them. Kay, on the other hand, is much more in control of herself and who she knows herself to be. Setting up the present timeline in the story with the act of fellatio, Minot takes her readers on a trip to see just how these two characters found themselves in their current position."Rapture" is, in some ways, less of a plot-driven piece, and instead it focuses on character development and the theme of love. Mainly, how different people react to "love," how it dictates their reactions, and how they themselves feel about the concept. Over the course of this short story, both Kay and Ben try to decide how love has led them to their current act of pleasure. The character aspect comes into play throughout the numerous memories that are almost haphazardly woven throughout the story. In some instances they do not occur chronologically. There may be some "main" timeline set for the flashbacks, with the more important events being displayed for readers in a chronological fashion, but there are many instances in which smaller details from longer ago are put more towards the end, and vice versa. It's realistic in that Ben and Kay are validating the particular memories with whatever facts they can pull at any given moment, much like how anyone would. While this might sound a bit daunting, Minot manages to pull it off. There are a few key moments to clue readers in on their exact point in the timeline, namely: Mexico, the elevator, and the apartments of Kay and Vanessa. Both characters see the idea of love in a different way, and their experiences/perceptions are what lead them to logical conclusions for them, and the readers are left to understand how it will be between these two once the story ends.This isn't to say "Rapture" is flawless. For those that enjoy dialogue, this story might disappoint. Very rarely is any line of dialogue used in the present time, with only one, maybe two at the most. (Granted, they aren't in a situation that allows for much discussion, but that's not what's important.) As far as flashbacks are concerned, most of the dialogue is explained instead of spoken, with Kay and Ben recalling what was said in vague detail as opposed to the actual words used. Some moments of dialogue to exist. However, these instances are scarce and, when they do arrive, the lines themselves are fragmented sentences. Also, for those that prefer their endings to have concrete finishes, "Rapture" may not deliver. While the ending can be inferred based on the conclusions both Ben and Kay come to, the ending itself ends abruptly. Readers are not given the satisfaction of seeing the aftermath of the event. Considering how vivid the actions and emotions of Kay and Ben are throughout the flashbacks, ending on such a vague note makes it a little odd.Overall, Susan Minot's "Rapture" is an enthralling read. The characters are deeply flawed in their own ways, and the duality between males and females is given an interesting, back-to-back representation.

Minot, Susan. “Rapture,”New York: Knopf, 2002“Rapture” by Susan Minot introduces two past lovers that have met up for what seems to be the final time in their twisted “relationship.” It begins with the two engaging in sexual activity, but the majority of the story is reflection. The tale recounts the numerous times these two, Kay Bailey and Benjamin Young, had lost themselves within passions of lust for each other, despite any commitments they were in. While Kay and Benjamin both admit at some point to have fallen hopelessly in love with one another, their lives never meshed together at the correct times for a functional relationship to begin. The novel switches points of view between the two and goes in-depth on what each character is thinking. The inner thoughts they have about the other are finally acknowledged within their own minds and throughout the story constant revelations come about. The inner dialogue each has about the history they share continues to shed more and more light onto who they really are. It is as though Minot wished this tale to take more emphasis on character development than a plot and it seems to have worked well. An interesting wrench thrown into this novel is the fact that Benjamin does have an on again, off again fiancé named Vanessa. There were times when Benjamin was with Vanessa that he went on a secret rendezvous with Kay, thus creating tension within his own complex. While he admits to having love for both women, he explains how he’s fallen out of love with his fiancé, but is plagued by the guilt that revolves around his situation. Minot executes this perfectly by including just enough of Vanessa’s story within Benjamin’s thoughts to exemplify to the reader how perplexed this man was. He cannot decide which woman is better for him, the one who has been there throughout his life and has been his rock, or the one who ultimately makes him feel alive. This is probably an instance that has occurred within several people’s lives and while reading this novel I found myself nodding my head in agreement to some of the confusion Benjamin expressed.At different times, each character is ultimately pushing away and denying that they are any good for each other. They both go into detail within their minds of different sexual exploitations with other partners, but it always seems as there is a constant void lingering within them. No matter how many people they are physically with, it’s inconceivable to completely forget each other and the raging passion they ignite. As quoted from the book, “the only things truly in the past are things completely forgotten” and while both Kay and Benjamin long to be at that point, it does not seem possible with how Minot divulges into their inner deliberations. This is possibly my favorite quote from the entire novel as it sheds light on the fact that people never fully let go of things like they say they do. It takes a lifetime to forget someone such as an ex-lover, but to lie to them and say they are in the past happens quite frequently.I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up within the two stories these people have provided. Looking at this story as a writer, one can see the characterization is done exceptionally well because Minot allows the reader into both character’s minds. There is nothing left to imagination in terms of Kay and Benjamin’s thoughts and this provides for generous character developments.
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Scott Magill
Rapture: The Things We Think During SexAuthor: Susan MinotTitle: RapturePublisher: Vintage BooksYear: 2002Susan Minot’s Rapture is a thin novel lasting one hundred and fifteen pages. The entire time passed, in the novel, in the present tense is through the action of Kay Bailey performing oral sex on Benjamin Young. A majority of the story is told through these two character’s thoughts and memories. The novel goes back over how they met, how they formed their relationship, and how they got to this moment in the afternoon with Kay in the middle of fellatio. tRather than tell the story chronologically and from one point of view, Minot uses a different and interesting method of narration in this book. The story is told through switching back and forth between Kay and Benjamin’s minds. The facts of their past relationship, up until now, are given in a jumble of memories that can only be put in order around a few major events, but it would be impossible to get an exact chronological order to every memory. Things can be placed either before the two had met, while they were working together in Mexico, after they came back, and in the last couple of months before the present. The characters have known each other for three years and these flashbacks take go through several points in the off-and-on romance they share over these years.tAlthough the present tense part of the novel is focused on a sexual act the novel would not be considered an erotic story. Most of the time is spent in the memories and the time which is spent on present thoughts is very rarely used to convey sexy thoughts. This novel seems to be, at least in a way, a commentary on how much our minds wonder during sex. The thoughts of the characters show how far apart two people can be when they are in the middle of something we’d usually think of as being an intimate and connecting act. We like to think of sex as bringing us together but Minot uses it to show that these two characters have never been further apart. As the story progresses Kay and Benjamin sometimes tell the same memories but Minot shows distinct differences in their perspectives then and now. Following Kay and Benjamin through their memories takes you through how much people’s emotions towards each other can change over time. Kay and Benjamin go through phases of each being love sick for the other at the most inopportune times and dealt with it differently. There comes a point in the novel though where Minot fails to keep the reader sympathetic for Benjamin as he admits to himself “…he was, in fact, another kind of asshole. Of what kind exactly he couldn’t say.” tThe end of the novel is a cliff hanger but Minot makes it clear what both Benjamin and Kay are thinking will happen and so the read has a good idea of what they think will become of this relationship. The afternoon delight is over but they’re minds never stop, as is the way of real life.
I know a book this small is meant to be read in one sitting, with a cup of tea or something. I read it on breaks at work, and ended up not reading it for a week or more as work got too busy for me to take breaks.I found this book very well observed. A lot of the emotions described felt familiar. The language in some spots was quite lovely as well. For these two reasons, I gave the book three stars.Yet I did not care. Whenever I was reading this book, I could not stop feeling that these two characters were terribly self-involved and in some ways uninteresting. I think even if I did attempt to read this in one sitting I would have become too exasperated with these people to do so.
It seems most reviewers were only able to focus on one aspect of this book and then, to either dismiss the sanctity of the act and view it as an immature, horny 15 year old would or to become enraged and then analyze only that portion of the book rather than the story in it's entirety. Shame, they really missed out.Think about meet someone and they become the highlight of your day, their love is now a marker of what came before and what followed after. You adore them, worship them in your own way, and can't imagine a world that they don't exist in. And years later, you are no longer recognizable to each other. Where did that love go? What happened to all the hope, respect and affection you once held and saw reflected back to you? Was it ever real or did you just make them up to hurt yourself?Here are two people destined to fail and yet, you want to root for them. Two people - one a cheater who only feels through another's eyes and the other disillusioned within her own reality, completely devoid of emotional accountability - but I still wanted them to recapture what they once had. I wanted them to get over their crap and find their happy ending. And yes, the story is told over the course of a single, sexual act and that's what made it so profound. That two people can be so entwined in an act of communion, so intimate, and yet both couldn't be further from each other. Benjamin swimming in his guilt, his realization that this woman was never love, but a woman who saw him the way he'd always wanted to be seen and that's what he loved. Kay moves between the lack of all the feelings she wants to feel but is unable and her desire to never feel again, especially not for this man. In fact, the only way she can be close to Benjamin and permit herself to show affection is to remove her identity completely and envision herself as a whore fulfilling a need. Sad and ugly as it all is, it's honest. Props where props are due.
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