Date Read: April 4, 2019
Format: Print Book
When the anonymous narrator’s best friend dies, she becomes responsible for the dog he has left behind. This is the general blurb any summary outlet will give for Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, and it’s all I’ll give here, because I think the intricacy of the novel’s subtext and susceptibility to a variety of interpretations are more worth discussing.
On the surface, while the overarching “I’m responsible for this dog now” theme is present, the book is about writers and writing; it follows, then, that this book is also about reading. The narrator, a writer and writing instructor herself, draws references from famous writers, as well as her deceased contemporary, in such a way that makes you as a reader evaluate how you evaluate (wait, what?) and reexamine your mentality when sitting down to interpret a book.
There is a distinct dichotomy of realities in this novel, and the onus is on the reader to decide which “reality” is the truth. The books eleventh part presents an alternative reality to not only the ten parts that have come before, but also the twelfth part that follows, and it is for the reader to decide what she believes to be, in a sense, real. I’m reserving my own interpretation here so as not to spoil anything, but I would adore further discussion on this with any of you who choose to read this very intriguing work.
With hopes of preserving the sort of ethereal reality contained within The Friend, I won’t share too much more, but suffice it to say that it is an easy read on the surface but will linger with you after you finish, faintly nagging at your mind to keep turning the story over and deciding what to make of it.I definitely recommend it for its constant encroachment into your world and the inspiration to spend some time with your own mind. Bonus points for such a philosophical read being presented in a fictional, “easy to read” way while still maintaining a strong narrative. You’ll read the book quickly, but you’ll think about it for a long time.
Buy The Friend here or grab it from your library. As always, happy reading! 🙂
P.S. I’m sorry I didn’t talk more about the dog!