I bought The Friend because it won the National Book Award for Fiction this fall. As a writer, I often ask myself what makes a book an award winner. Sadly, after reading this one, I’m mystified.
The good news is that The Friend is short. And that, separated from a non-existent plot, the writing is top-notch. And that part of the story is about an aging Great Dane that is inherited by the main character when her one-time lover and longtime good friend dies.
The bad news is that the book is disjointed, more a series of essays than an actual novel. Among other topics, these essays address suicide and writers, writing as catharsis, writing and dysfunction, journaling for abused women, sex trafficking vs sex workers, psychosomatic blindness, psychosomatic muteness, and fiction versus memoir.
There were quotes, lots of quotes, by writers on writing. I’m a writer, and, frankly, they bored me.
If you like dogs, this book may appeal. Likewise, if you like reading about suicide. If you want an interesting, engrossing, and uplifting story, though, try something else.