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The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away
 
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The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away [Format Kindle]

Jenny Offill , Elissa Schappell

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Torch Song

Katie Roiphe


My memory of Stella, at nineteen, is neither as crisp nor as detailed as it should be. It's only with a tremendous effort of will that I can bring her into focus at all. She is wearing a complicated black outfit that looks like rags pinned together with safety pins, and black stockings, with deliberate runs laddering her legs. Her skin is translucent, the color of skim milk, and her matted, dyed blond hair looks about as plausibly human as the hair of a much loved doll. Under her eyes are extravagant circles, plum colored and deep. She always looks haggard. No one that age looked haggard the way she looked haggard. And yet, as one came to know her, that was part of her romance.

Stella was from the South. I remember her being from a trailer park, but it may have been a small, sleepy town. She had some sort of unspeakable tragedy in her background, which added to the quality of southern gothic she cultivated. In my picture of her, she is curled up on a mahogany windowsill, with a Faulkner novel, but in reality, she was one of those brilliant college students whose minds are clamoring too loudly with their own noise to read much.

On good days, Stella looked as if she were late to the most important meeting of her life; on bad days, she looked if she were being hunted down by organized and insidious forces. She was also one of the most powerful people in our Harvard class. She was monumentally, conspicuously damaged in a way that was, to us then, ineffably chic. She had an entourage of followers and hangers-on, mostly men of ambiguous sexual preference whose mothers had given them exotic, weighty names like Byron and Ulysses. She had an authentically doomed streak that was to the rest of us, future bankers, editors, lawyers, future parents of one point five children, and mortgage holders, uniquely appealing. And the whole time I knew her she was writing something--a detective story? a play? a thriller?--something with a murder in it, I think, but whatever it was, it added to the impression that she was engaged in more important endeavors than the rest of us. She talked in the cartoon bubbles of comic book characters: "Oh ho." Or "Jumping Juniper." Or "Iced cold beverage," or "Eek." This was part of an elaborate, stylized defense, against the softness associated with sincerity.

And yet, the perfection of her cool was pleasantly undermined by an ambience of frazzled vulnerability. She was overweight, and had a flinching relationship with her own body. If you caught a glimpse of her coming down Plympton Street at dusk, you might mistake her self-deprecating shuffle for that of a homeless person. In retrospect, I can see that she was kind of wonderful looking, with her fabulous, disheveled gestalt, but at the time being overweight was an enormous, almost insurmountable, taboo. She had a great, pure throaty laugh, which went along with a child's pleasure in the smallest things. I can see her clapping her hands in delight over a chocolate sundae or a gardenia-scented candle.

She was one of the few girls at school that I could talk to. We would sit on her bed and chatter for hours. She would smoke insane amounts of cigarettes. I would drink insane amounts of coffee. In the background a scratchy Lou Reed song called "Waltzing Mathilda" might be playing; a song which for some reason we couldn't get enough of. It was about a party interrupted by the inconvenient discovery of a female corpse.

Over the years the sting of what happened between us has died down to an anecdote repeated at cocktail parties, where I had found it could be interesting sometimes to reveal something odious about yourself. "Will you listen to how you sound?" I can hear Stella saying. "It's still all about what a colorful character you are, isn't it?" In my mind her voice is perpetually and sharply sarcastic, which it wasn't always. There was plenty to Stella besides her considerable satiric gifts. But that is, after all of these years, what remains.

Stella's one conventionality was that she was in love. The boy in question was very tall and very green-eyed. He wore ripped jeans and fake gas station attendant's shirts, and was a Buddhist. He had a funny, fluid way of moving his long arms and legs that was attractively effeminate and moderately vain. And he had elegant, sharply arched eyebrows that gave him the aspect of one of the wickeder Greek gods. I won't bother to say what his name was because he could have been anyone, and his specific personality, which was fairly annoying in a number of specific ways, would only be a sideshow and a distraction. I knew the night I met him and Stella that they both were and weren't together; both facts were equally apparent after being around either of them for five minutes. They orbited each other, but anxiously. They spoke the same weird patois, a mixture of baby talk and archness. ("Who was that female person you were talking to?" "I don't know to whom you are referring, doll.") They seemed, if anything, like a brother and sister engaged in some kind of incestuous love under the magnolia trees of an old plantation.

The secret was that Stella and the boy sometimes slept together. In retrospect, I can't think why it was such a secret, unless it was the boy's vanity that demanded they remain officially unattached. Their spotty, intermittent affair depended on him not seeing a more conventionally pretty girl, and was extremely damaging for Stella, who remained in a state of dramatically heightened jealousy at all times. There was a whiff of scandal to the whole thing, which came, in a world where surfaces were everything, from their being so mismatched in looks.

In other words, it was hardly an ambiguous situation. There was, Stella would later point out, no shortage of boys: there were boys with prettier eyes or a more refined knowledge of Proust; boys with more original neuroses, and less saccharine forms of spirituality. But the fact is that attractions are contagious. I spent hours sitting at "Tommy's Lunch," drinking lime slushies and listening to Stella take apart the peculiarities of his character; hours listening to her fits of jealousy over the irresistible odalisques sprawled across his dorm bed. This is what happens when an overly intelligent woman brings all of her talents to bear on an infatuation: Without either of us realizing what was happening, she somehow persuaded me of his attractiveness.

My flirtation with the boy, if you could even call it that, was beyond furtive. The three of us were often together, and he and I behaved toward each other with an irreproachable mixture of mannerliness and hostility. He came to visit me alone once when I was sick and brought me magazines and orange juice. Our conversation was innocent bordering on banal. I think we talked about the declining quality of the cereal selection at breakfast. Neither one of us told Stella about the visit.

And yet somehow we both knew. It was as abstract and agreed upon as an arranged marriage. I felt it when I stepped into the cool morning air, and gulped down a milky cup of coffee before class. I felt it when I walked next to the slate-colored river, watching the shallow crew boats skim the surface. It was with me, in other words, all the time: a low-grade excitement about this boy I barely knew. From this distance in time, this may be the most foreign and inscrutable part of the story: the attractions that could at any moment flare up and end your life as you knew it.

At this point I may as well offer a slight, very slight, argument in my defense: people didn't belong as absolutely to other people then. There was a kind of fluidity to our world. The barriers that in adult life seem so solid and fixed, literal walls defining your apartment, your bedroom, did not exist at that age. You listened, for instance, to your roommate having sex; you slept easily and deeply on someone else's couch; you ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with everyone you knew. And somehow nothing was quite real unless it was shared, talked about, rehashed with friends, fretted about and analyzed, every single thing that happened, every minute gradation of emotion, more a story in the process of being told than events in and of themselves.

Over the summer the boy came to visit me in New York. I remember him standing in the doorway to my room, grinning, with an army green duffel. Had we pretended it was a platonic visit? It seems far-fetched that he would have come all the way from New Hampshire to New York to see a casual acquaintance, but I have a feeling that was what we told ourselves. We climbed up to the roof of my parents' building and watched the boats go by on the Hudson, the sun silhouetting the squat water towers a dark silvery green.

I am aware, even now, of some small part of me that would like to say that it was worth it, some adolescent, swaggering side that would like to claim that the sexual moment itself seared the imagination, and was worth, in its tawdry, obliterating way, the whole friendship. It was not.

Of the act itself, I remember almost nothing at all. It seems that when one is doing something truly illicit, not just moderately illicit but plainly wrong, the sex itself is forgettable. The great fact of the immorality overshadows anything two mere bodies can achieve. All I remember is that he was gentle, in the way that sensitive boys were supposed to be gentle. He brought me a warm washcloth afterward, which sickened me slightly, and embarrassed me.

Stella, red pencil tucked behind her ear, would notice that I haven't described the actual seduction. That I've looked politely away from the events, because they are incriminating and, more important, banal. I wouldn't want to debase my great betrayal, my important, self-flagellating narrative with anything so mundane as what actually happened. That's how she would see it, anyway. Two people taking off their clothes, however gloriously wrong, are, in the end, just tw...

Revue de presse

“These tales are truly heartwarming and heartbreaking. Which pretty much describes the too often fleeting nature of friendship.” —Daily Candy

The Friend Who Got Away … reveals women to be thoughtful and kind, sometimes callous and neglectful, like all humans.”—The New York Times Book Review

“An intense, intelligent collection of first-person accounts by women who analyze and mourn friendships lost.” —Time Out New York

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 498 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 322 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0767917197
  • Editeur : Broadway Books (18 décembre 2007)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000XU8E82
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°335.321 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 3.8 étoiles sur 5  37 commentaires
81 internautes sur 83 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "Do be my enemy for friendship's sake." 24 mai 2005
Par Jana L. Perskie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I felt compelled to read "The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away" because I am a woman who once lost a best friend, and for some reason let her "get away." I have long felt a profound sense of sadness for the tremendous loss - the loss of so much closeness, the mutual trust, and the extraordinary intimacy of being able to confide almost anything in another person. In my lifetime, I have experienced the end of many relationships, some for expediency, others because paths diverged, and some, even for the best. Yet I will never forget this special women and all the wonderful conversations, thoughts and dreams we once shared - and now do not. Those who believe, in general, that romantic relationships are more intense than platonic friendships are in for a surprise. As I read the twenty essays included in this gem of a collection, some of them wonderful, others not, I was amazed at how many resonated with me and reminded me of various and diverse relationships I have had with women over the years. I was struck by the complexity of these friendships, and the variety of reasons they ended.

One friendship broke-up over a loan. Another, because men, sex and dates took priority over women friends. Others ended because of intellectual differences, competition, ambition, and betrayal. A few stories are devastating in nature, one involves the loss of a child. Authors Heather Abel and Emily Chenoweth discuss their mutual college friendship, and its demise, in separate essays. "I've never had a friendship that was that intense," Chenoweth said in a recent interview. "It did make it volatile in the way that a love relationship can be. But the thing is, lovers have a vocabulary for talking about the relationship. I'm not sure that exists for friends." Now, at age 33, both have reconciled.

Contributors Heather Abel, Diana Abu Jaber, Dorothy Allison, Nuar Alsadir, Kate Bernheimer, Emily Chenoweth, Jennifer Gilmore, Beverly Gologorsky, Vivian Gornick, Ann Hood, Nicole Keeter, Patricia Marx, Lydia Millet, Mary Morris, Francine Prose, Katie Roiphe, Helen Schulman, Elizabeth Strout, Emily White, share their well written, unique stories with the reader, which will inevitably evoke a multitude of feelings. Most affected me deeply.

William Blake wrote: "Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache; do be my enemy for friendship's sake." Appropriate here, I think.
JANA
31 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Provoking and Intriguing--though Sad 1 juin 2005
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
It's happened to all of us: the friendship you thought would enrich your life forever ends because of death, disinterest, argument, man problems, loss of common interest, distance, illness, or inertia. While it's not at all surprising to hear of love lost, it is somehow startling and fascinating when friendship ends. That person who knew you like no other, to whom you confided all your dreams and secrets, is no longer in your life --- leaving an enormous and sometimes heartbreaking gap.

In this nonfiction anthology of essays, twenty well-known female writers tell their true tales of friendship lost. Two authors, once best friends, share separate perspectives of their parting.

I was delighted to discover names of authors I admire, including Ann Hood, whose "How I Lost Her" made me weep. Other standouts include the horribly disturbing "Flawless" by Lydia Millet (I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed it, but I'll be thinking about it for a very long time). "Want" by Nuar Alsadir, describing a friend who takes imitation to a distressing level, also intrigued and bothered me. The black-humored "Tenure" by Patricia Marx, in which the author wryly describes herself as "the most easygoing, accommodating, nonjudgmental, and unassuming friend in the world" was the one tale that made me laugh ruefully.

Curiously, Diana Abu-Jaber's "In-Betweens," telling of the author's childhood relationship with two boys, is the only story in the anthology describing a lost friendship with a male. I can't help but wonder why that is, and if it's representative.

The theme of friendship won and lost is universal and riveting; each story in this collection is sincere and regretful. Several tales struck a chord, reminding me of my own lost friends. Others fascinated me by telling of friendships unlike any I've encountered. However, as much as I enjoyed THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY, I couldn't help but notice that tale after tale of loss can make for a downbeat reading experience. Despite that minor quibble (easily solved by interspersing these stories with other, lighter reading), I definitely recommend this thought-provoking and intriguing anthology.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
36 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Written by and for those who form their own inner circle 4 septembre 2005
Par Suzanne Amara - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I wonder often if the authors of books like these realize at all how few people really live the lives they are writing about. By this I mean lives of art show openings, long intellectual conversations, shopping at small trendy boutiques for interesting clothes, traveling the world and having moments of revelations while watching exotic sunsets...I am not saying all these times are literally included here, but you get the picture! Most of the essays here seem much more written to show off the authors' Writer's Workshop prose than to really talk about lost friendships. I was eager to read this book as it's a big issue in many women's lives---friendship is such a vital part of our lives and lost friendships can be much like divorces, yet it's not often written about. A few of the essays did not disappoint, most notably the one by Ann Hood. I had thought of her so often since reading in the paper about the tragic loss of her daughter, and her lost friendship in the aftermath of that tragedy is so affecting to read about. A few other essays were wonderful, mainly the ones written about childhood friendships, such as the one by Nicole Keeter. But almost all the rest were nothing that I could relate to at all. I think the editors could have looked for a little more divesity---do no blue collar women lose friends? Do very few women with children lose friends? Do those in rural areas lose friends? Do those who, heaven forbid, write with styles not honed in writers workshops lose friends?

Overall, a good idea marred by the choices of essays and authors.
31 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Don't let this excellent book 'get away' from your must read list 30 juillet 2005
Par Robin Orlowski - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book explains that loosing friends is a natural but painful part of a woman's life. Because I had inadvertently assumed myself and other people who did this somehow 'failed' at having friends, this book provided critical reassurance.

The end to a friendship can come suddenly, as in the result of a heated argument, or it can develop over time, like high school friends who move away from their hometown to attend college or school friends who move apart and 'forget' to write to each other. Even if nothing intentionally provokes the development, some things just cannot be sustained indefinitely. Letting go of a friendship which drifts away is much healthier than attempting to sustain it for appearances sake.

Because I have had several friendships end in my own lifetime, I appreciated the frank monologues inside this book. There was not anything which we could have done to save the friendship and a friendship's end does not mean that either one of us were bad people to another. It's just something that happens throughout life.

I sporadically still think about many of my former friends, and wonder if they also remember the good times which we had shared at a mutual point in our lives. However, I also recognize that because we are presently in different places-- both geographically and mentally--our friendship would not necessarily rekindle itself were we to again meet up. Even assuming that we would be able to work everything out, we would then have to start the relationship over.

I usually do not like self-help or advice books, but this book avoids nagging in favor of real answers to common problems. Plus, it does not blame the women whose friendships end.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Universal theme, great writing 9 septembre 2005
Par J. A. Brown - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Twenty women share their personal accounts of friendships that ended, sometimes by choice, other times by distance, death, money or men. There are stories of regret and others of relief. Most interestingly, two writers who used to be best friends each detail the beginning and demise of their relationship from their own perspectives ("Emily", by Heather Abel, and "Heather", by Emily Chenoweth). There isn't a woman alive (or man, for that matter) who hasn't been in the same situation; for whatever reason, a friendship ends. In our society, which is usually exclusively concerned with the drama and importance of romantic and familial relationships, we don't give much thought to the weight of platonic friendships and there are no easy rules or platitudes upon which to base one's behavior or draw boundaries. The confusion and ambiguity that envelops such relationships is captured perfectly in the pages of this book. While it may be difficult to relate to the life circumstances of all the authors (most are upper-middle class white women with Ivy League educations), the emotions that arise from the death of their friendships are not. Only a few essays contained viewpoints with which I had difficulty empathizing. Overall, this book tackles a subject that is universal but is usually relegated to the backs of our minds, not widely discussed. Highly recommended!
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