Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Friend who Got Away edited by Jenny Offill & Elissa Schappell

I saw this book in Village Books a few weeks back and decided to request it from the library. Today I picked it up, read about half and realized I just wasn't going to be able to finish it. It's a collection of 20 essays by woman writers, sharing stories about the loss of friendship, usually a long-term friendship with another woman that started in childhood. Far too many of these tales are excruciatingly self-absorbed as the writers share every nuance of their efforts to figure out what went wrong or attempt to explain why they took the actions that brought an end to the friendship. Others simply lay out the events that led to the friendship's demise, without all the elaborate explanation and "intellectual" writing style that mars the other stories - can you tell these were the stories I preferred? (I wish there had been more of them!) Most surprising to me was the pair of stories by two women who had once been close, each writing her own emotional version of the "breakup". I wanted to knock their heads together and tell them to get off their narcissistic high horses and either make amends, or move on. There's something decidedly weird to me about choosing to write together about a friendship and its end in such a public way. I don't get it.

I just can't say that I find this book as gripping and extraordinary as the book jacket promises (not that I'm saying I believe everything I read in a book jacket!). The stories told here are quite painfully ordinary, and I'm left hoping that their publication helped the writers to come to terms with the lost relationships they write about, because frankly, they aren't offering me much enlightenment about my own experiences of lost friendship.

No comments: