Excerpt from No Cheating, No Dying by Elizabeth Weil, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

No Cheating, No Dying

I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried To Make It Better

by Elizabeth Weil

No Cheating, No Dying by Elizabeth Weil
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2012, 192 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Just that afternoon, Dan told me, he'd gotten "bageled," meaning he'd caught no waves, while surfing Ocean Beach.

"I know, it's pretty pathetic, right?" he said, nodding, covering his mouth, seeing if he could recruit me to agree.

"No, it's not pathetic at all," I said. "Or is it? I mean, I don't really know."

"Believe me, it's pathetic," Dan said. He was a big hunky insecure mess.

Dan was also a catch. A few years earlier he'd written a surf memoir called Caught Inside, and for this, in a review, he'd been anointed an "ontologist of dudedom, Henry David Thoreau doing aerials on a fiberglass board." Dan didn't tell me about the book. Mostly he wanted me to know that prior to getting bageled he'd spent the day depressed, lying on the floor of his room, staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars the previous tenant had glued to the ceiling. I learned about the memoir the following day when I walked up Valencia Street and bought Caught Inside myself. I didn't read the memoir for months. I was too scared. I just memorized the jacket copy and stared at Dan's author photo. He stood on a dune, gazing into the sun, looking self-conscious and endearing.

That spring I'd left Chicago because I wanted, needed, something to happen in my life. I've always tended toward stability while fearing boredom, so every few years I give myself a swift kick. Before San Francisco my plan had been to move to South Africa to witness the post-apartheid truth commissions. This struck me as a good way to solve two core problems: my feeling that I didn't know anything about anything (which I now see was related to the problem of being twenty-six) and my increasing annoyance with the chirpy magazine articles I wrote to pay my rent. But then I heard about a man building a civilian spaceship in the Mojave Desert, and, wanting change more than I wanted anything in particular, I decided to write a book about him. I loaded my clothes into my Honda Civic, bought a Johnny Cash box set, and pointed west. En route I blew my head gasket and skidded out in a spring blizzard in Donner Pass. Still I kept moving forward—my specialty and downfall—hoping to leave behind the last traces of what I considered to be an embarrassing youth.

Like the textiles. God, the textiles. I'd grown up in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in a home filled with awful fabrics—pastel chevron-striped sofas, rust velour loungers, a canary yellow pleather couch. Worse, I seemed to have inherited the bad textile gene. Before my junior year in college my mother drove me to Bob's Discount Furniture, where she allowed me to pick out a pink-and-white-striped La-Z-Boy chair. I felt fantastic about the chair until I moved it into my dorm and saw with hideous clarity that I carried the family curse. As I drove west from Chicago I committed myself to a lifelong plan to thwart the gene's expression: I'd buy only wood furniture. The plan worked for a couple of years.

A few days after meeting Dan, I thought up an excuse to call him. A friend was visiting from Chicago. We'd driven to the Marin Headlands, looking for a gorgeous hike, but ended up in Muir Woods with the tourists on a paved path. My ontologist, surely, could deliver me from this problem.

"That's it, huh?" Dan said, teasing, when I phoned. "You just thought maybe I could suggest a pretty hike?"

"It's true!" I protested. Or at least it was partly true.

The next Tuesday, at Mars, Dan arrived flecked with salt again.

"So, did you make it to Coyote Ridge?" he asked.

"Yes, thank you. Did you get bageled?"

He laughed, eyes bioluminescent. Then he put me out of my misery and asked me on a date.

Everyone has a theory of marriage; few of them agree: The happiest marriages are based on the least romantic expectations; the happiest marriages are maintained by spouses who cling to rosy lenses and insist on holding their partners in delusionally high regard. In a happy marriage, the focus is inward, the relationship comes first; in a happy marriage, each spouse encourages the other to attain individual goals.

Excerpted from No Cheating, No Dying by Elizabeth Weil. Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth Weil. Excerpted by permission of Scribner. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

The moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold into a library, we've changed their lives ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -