Conversations with Friends
This is one of those books that make me doubt my own taste, but in a good way? Maybe? It was so hype-y and I’m always so eye-roll-y about hype-y books. And I read the description and thought “I wouldn’t like this book.” And I read reviews and thought “Neh. Not for me.” And then I checked out the e-book one night on a whim–because it appeared toward the top of the “now available” list and two pages in I thought “It’s okay” and then fifty pages later, when I still hadn’t gone to sleep, I thought “Huh. Weird. I guess I really like this book.”
I’m not sure what it is about the book that works. Technically it should be boring. If you’ve ever sat in a coffeeshop and listened to other people–who aren’t you–chat with each other, you know that the very concept of conversations with friends (who aren’t you), is boring. Add to this the fact that there’s nothing in this book that is anywhere outside the realm of fairly normal human experience. Confusion about who you love, confusion about morality, lots of talking about politics, fights with friends, tension with parents . . . It’s all very quotidien. But I guess that what makes it work is the extremely well-constructed characterization.
So here’s the love, like, meh-factor breakdown:
I loved Bobbi and Frances–their friendship is complicated and golden and if you heard them chatting in a coffeeshop, you would listen, even though they were talking about people and ideas you didn’t know.
I liked the story of the affair–the tension–conversational and physical–was well-described; I find most sex in books boring, and this was one of the few that really portrayed the way in which sex is a kind of conversation, without verging into either unnecessary eroticism or pointedly boring flesh-shuffling.
I was very “meh” about the portrayal of Women Over Thirty. It wasn’t offensive exactly but I think it’s sort of … lame to paint them into a corner of catty, insecure caricatures, without self-consciously confronting the fact that the main characters who were interacting with them–as well as the author who was writing them–are very much in their twenties.
Young women writers, DO BETTER. There’s a lot more to us than being bitter about the “old age” of the mid-thirties.