I was all social on Friday and went for drinks with other immigrants. Also realized that facebook had decided that I didn’t want to see the updates of one of them (my fave!) for well over a year, so when she said “I’m omw, just have to feed the baby”, I went “….what?”. Thanks FB…
Anyway, I also finished a book this weekend. I think it was a “briefly noted” in the New Yorker that made pick it up. Plus it is written by a woman, which (as you might know) is a criterion for me this year.
The first few chapters I thought it’d be a book about male friendship, but I was wrong. The story does cover friendship, but also love, abuse, sexual violence etc.
The New Yorker says that “the most moving parts of “A Little Life” are not its most brutal but its tenderest ones, moments when Jude receives kindness and support from his friends.” (here is the full review), and obviously I agree.
The section I’m carrying with me from it though, is this one:
As you got older, you realized that the qualities you valued in the people you slept with or dated weren’t necessarily the ones you wanted to live with, or be with, or plod through your days with. If you were smart, and if you were lucky, you learned this and accepted this. You figured out what was most important to you and you looked for it, and you learned to be realistic. They all chose differently: Roman had chosen beauty, sweetness, pliability; Malcolm, he thought, had chosen reliability, and competence (Sophie was intimidatingly efficient), and aesthetic compatibility. And he? He had chosen friendship. Conversation. Kindness. Intelligence. /…/ Now, though, as an almost-forty-eight-year-old, he saw people’s relationships as reflections of their keenest yet most inarticulable desires, their hopes and insecurities taking shape physically, in the form of another person. Now he looked at couples–in restaurants, on the street, at parties–and wondered: Why are you together? What did you identify as essential to you? What’s missing in you that you want someone else to provide? He now viewed a successful relationship as one in which both people had recognized the best of what the other person had to offer, and had chosen to value it as well. (p. 567-568)
Not sure I agree (it’s a bit cynical even for me?), but the thought stuck with me. And I guess I don’t think she’s WRONG either.
A Little Life – so sad, and kinda gross, but also well written and depicting beautiful friendships. If you like that kind of things and big books (I really need to get myself one of these bags), you might want to give it a go.