Friendship, Emily Gould
I rescued this from a friend when she was having a bit of a book clear-out a couple of months ago, because a) the cover was pretty and b) there was a quote from Chad Harbach on the front saying how much he liked it. And as The Art Of Fielding is absolutely incredible, I figured he was probably right. I picked it up from my toe-read pile on a day when I knew I’d be spending a lot of time on trains and waiting around. It led to me being on the Bakerloo line, surrounded by men on their way to the rugby, telling one of them that he needed to read it so that he would “learn how to get friends mate” and so on.
I expected Friendship to be about reconciliation, but it was more about how friends drift apart and unravel, which I can definitely relate to. Sometimes life – relationships, new jobs, moving, health, whatever – just gets in the way, and if it’s a combination of those things then it certainly gets tricky. Best friends Bev and Amy both live in New York, doing jobs they don’t like, living in places they don’t like, coasting along but a bit stuck, too, until life gets in the way, and everything changes at rather an alarming rate.
There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about Friendship, but I enjoyed reading it. It made me laugh, and Gould’s way of articulating feelings of loss and heartbreak were a frequent punch in the gut. I enjoyed the predictable turns as much as the more surprising twists. I liked how Bev and Amy irritate and exasperate each other, but appreciate what they have to offer – it’s a familiar feeling. I found some of the dialogue jarring, occasionally the characters were a little too one-dimensional for my taste, and the sexual descriptions were a little clunky, but other than that I liked her style.
I also loved the descriptions of New York: I’ve never been, but books like this make me want to go immediately (you’ll be pleased to know that, unlike Oregon, I do know where New York is!). It’s a good job I didn’t read this just before Lauren went in the summer, because I would have been even more tempted to chuck everything and join her. It’s evocative, and inviting, not in the way that some books are, always skipping between landmarks, but just in the little details and hints that feel much more realistic. I liked how it tied in with places I almost recognise from conversations with friends who live there, friends who have been. Sadly it doesn’t mention the artisan doughnut shops that my friend keeps telling me about – doughnut shops that I desperately want to visit with them one day – but as I’ve just remembered, I’m just going to think about doughnuts for a bit anyway…