Losing a friend can be as painful and as agonizing as a divorce or the end of a love affair, yet it is rarely written about or even discussed. THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY is the first book to address this near-universal experience, bringing together the brave, eloquent voices of writers like Francine Prose, Katie Roiphe, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, Ann Hood, Diana Abu Jabar, Vivian Gornick, Helen Schulman, and many others. Some write of friends who have drifted away, others of sudden breakups that took them by surprise. Some even celebrate their liberation from unhealthy or destructive relationships. Yet at the heart of each story is the recognition of a loss that will never be forgotten.
From stories about friendships that dissolved when one person revealed a hidden self or moved into a different world, to tales of relationships sabotaged by competition, personal ambition, or careless indifference, THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY casts new light on the meaning and nature of women’s friendships. Katie Roiphe writes with regret about the period in her life when even close friends seemed expendable compared to men and sex. Mary Morris reveals how a loan led to the unraveling of a lifelong friendship. Vivian Gornick explores how intellectual differences eroded the bond between once inseparable companions. And two contributors, once best friends, tell both sides of the story that led to their painful breakup.
Written especially for this anthology and touched with humor, sadness, and sometimes anger, these extraordinary pieces simultaneously evoke the uniqueness of each situation and illuminate the universal emotions evoked by the loss of a friend.
The reasons are myriad: one friend slept with the other's boyfriend; money caused an argument; friends became romantically involved with each other; lives and priorities changed; a bond simply "unraveled." For the women who contribute to this thoughtful anthology, the end of friendship no matter its cause is often distressing, and that feeling always lingers. Yet such a bleak subject has yielded a trove of mostly inquisitive, mindful writing, a selection of very personal pieces about a painful and fairly universal experience. Some writers remember childhood friendships: Diana Abu Jaber recalls her trials as an expatriate kid in Jordan, torn between a playmate who spoke her language and another whose words she couldn't understand yet with whom she felt closer; Nicole Keeter writes of her connection with and later break from the only other black girl in her fifth-grade class. Others evoke friendships from college and adulthood, such as Heather Abel and PW Forecasts editor Emily Chenoweth, who, in separate essays, delve into the circumstances that led to their friendship and its demise. "For a long time... my love for Heather was a piece of glass in my heart; it hurt every time I moved," writes Chenoweth. Though often sad when read in succession, these pieces are deeply affecting. Montaigne said friendship "feeds the spirit"; the same applies to this engrossing collection. (On sale May 17)