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The Friend (2018)

por Sigrid Nunez

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
8576418,617 (3.75)77
A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them. Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porWXC89, booksforbrunch, MAR67, WXC789, wxc777, Raechill
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Inglês (60)  Alemão (2)  Italiano (1)  Holandês (1)  Todas as línguas (64)
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With Friends Like These...
Review of the Penguin Audio audiobook edition, released simultaneously with the Penguin hardcover (Feb. 6, 2018)
How about some Schubert? Oh, maybe not Schubert, whose pen, in the words of Arvo Pärt, was 50% ink, 50% tears. [...] I play him Miles Davis. I play him Bach and Arvo Pärt. I play him Prince, Adele, and Frank Sinatra, and Mozart. Lots of Mozart. - excerpt from The Friend listing music played for the dog.With a passage like the above, qualifying it for the list of Books with Fictional Characters Who Love Arvo Pärt, a beloved Estonian composer whom I admittedly promote at every available opportunity, The Friend would never sink into 1 star / did-not-like-it territory. It did however flirt with issues of the makes-me-angry and makes-me-depressed zone, which did put it dangerously close.

The narrator becomes the default adopter of a friend's aging Great Dane dog after the friend has died by suicide. The friends are both writers. which cues the use of a great number of often cynical and bitter quotes about writing. Quoting other people's writing at length doesn't strike me as great fiction. This is compounded especially by a) an extended detailed plot description of the traumatic child-trafficking film Lilya-4-Ever (Sweden 2002) by director Lukas Moodysson, which I had otherwise managed to block from my memory after seeing it, and b) an extended plot description and quotes from My Dog Tulip (1956) by J.R. Ackerley, a disturbing dog love book that I have not been able to bring myself to read, and which, based on this further evidence, I may continue to avoid.

The actual dealings with the dog probably only make up 1/5th of the book's material and that includes the comic dealings with keeping a dog in a dog-free apartment building.

My rating is probably unduly influenced by the audiobook narration by veteran reader Hillary Huber, whom I have enjoyed in the past. She adopts what seems like a world-weary and cynical tone for the reading which may be in keeping with the material, but didn't inspire a lot of endearment. A paper reading might have been better in this case and would likely get up to 3-stars. ( )
  alanteder | Feb 3, 2021 |
I found the reviews and the summaries of this book to be misleading. Though touted as the story of a woman who works through her grief by adopting her deceased friend’s dog, it has very little about the dog and her caring for it. It’s written much like a memoir, only not as good as memoirs usually are. It’s a rambling discussion of how the main character feels about her writing career, and the students she has. She discusses how writing - and writers - are misunderstood. She includes many statements by other writers and philosophers. I might have rated this book higher if I had liked her writing style. I didn’t. I would have rated it higher if it had been a cohesive story. It wasn’t. It certainly would have gotten a higher rating if it had developed characters or even a plot, interesting or not! Sadly, it had neither. I know many people liked this award-winning novel, if that’s what it was, and I am happy for you. I was exceedingly happy when my journey through this miserable book was finally over. ( )
  Maydacat | Jan 28, 2021 |
A delicate 4 stars. I don't think I'm a full-fledged Nunez convert (although to be one is rather en vogue at present), but this is certainly an insightful, fine, intelligent short novel. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
The title is a double entendre -- is "the friend" the longtime close acquaintance of the narrator, or is it that acquaintance's great dane, who is left behind after the man's death and given over to the narrator. Though the narrator is hesitant to take up the task of dog ownership, she quickly falls in love with the aging beast.

The book is perhaps less a novel than it is a journal-cum-essay. About a third of the book consists of relevant quotes and anecdotes from other authors. "The Friend" is the closest that most of us will ever get to having a drink with a learned sage who has spent much of her life absorbing the wisdom of the written word. There is perhaps more wisdom in these 212 pages than in any other book I've read in the past ten years. I long for such depth of conversation with another human in the real world.

Though "The Friend" is an act of mourning for a lost friend (and the eventual loss of another), it is also quite funny. As the narrator quips, "it's because a person has a sense of humor that we feel we can trust them."

Now that I have finished reading this book, I can't help but feel that I have entered into a state of mourning myself. ( )
1 vote Travis_H | Oct 4, 2020 |
Beautiful in so many ways. I transferred more quotes to my notebook than from any other I have read, recently. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
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You have to realize that you cannot hope to console yourself for your grief by writing.
Natalia Ginzburg, “My Vocation”

You will see a large chest, standing in the middle of the floor, and upon it a dog seated, with a pair of eyes as large as teacups. But you need not be at all afraid of him.
Hans Christian Andersen, “The Tinderbox”

The question any novel is really trying to answer is, Is life worth living?
Nicholson Baker, “The Art of Fiction No. 212,” The Paris Review
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A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them. Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

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