October 16, 2021
“True friends stab you in the front,” as Oscar Wilde once said. Here are books about unbreakable bonds, about reconnecting with lost soul mates, about the community and family that friendship can provide, and the consequences of betraying those friendships.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By ELIZABETH STROUT
Published by RANDOM HOUSE
For lovers of Strout’s delicious character studies, this is a treat. As with Olive Kittredge in Olive, Again she revisits a previous character to show us what happens after the last pages were turned. In this case it is Lucy Barton, last seen in a hospital with her complicated mother at her bedside. Now years later Lucy and her first husband, William, take off for a road trip that will be life altering. It is a sweet (in only the way Strout does sweet, which is to say, tart) exploration of lasting attachments and the cost of keeping secrets.
The Days of Afrekete
By ASALI SOLOMON
Published by FSG
Over the course of one day, two Black women, now at a tipping point in their lives, reconnect after decades. Liselle is a politician’s wife who has just had some bad news about her husband’s shady dealings; Selena is her estranged college lover who has not forgotten their years together. Their renewed friendship drives this warm and funny story that will resonate for many readers at midlife. With nods to Virginia Woolf (a dinner party) and Audre Lorde (the Afrakete of the title) Solomon fulfills the promise of her previous 2007 National Book Foundation award (‘5 Under 35’) and more..
A Spindle Splintered
By ALIX E. HARROW
Published by TORDOTCOM
Part of Harrow’s bestselling ‘fractured fable’ series (see The Once and Future Witches, new in paperback) this thrilling installment riffs on the Sleeping Beauty story. A mysterious illness has overshadowed Zinnia’s life, and left her with a wicked sense of humor. When her predetermined fate (a life expectancy of only twenty-two years) approaches, her best friend tries to help thwart her destiny. Another tale of friendship, this one is fantastical, with a character just trying to make it to middle age! It’s a great reimagining of a classic, illustrated by beautiful black and white silhouettes, with a feminist/LGBTQ+ twist.
By LAURENCE LEAMER
Published by G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS
When Truman Capote’s famously unfinished novel was excerpted in Esquire in 1980 he shocked literary society by defaming his closest female friends. Leamer takes us back to that notorious chapter among the upper classes in New York starting in the 50s onward. Capote, society’s darling, called them his ‘swans’: Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill, Marella Agnelli, Pamela Harriman, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness and Slim Hayward. They had in common impressive fortunes, great beauty and many husbands. Capote’s role as their confidant was betrayed in an instant, and he never recovered from the fury and fallout. A regrettable end to a brilliant career, it remains a fascinating, juicy episode in literary history..
By BRAD KESSLER
Published by THE OVERLOOK PRESS
Kessler’s previous novel (Birds in Fall) was about intertwining lives from all parts of the world coming together under tragic circumstances in the far Northeast. Then he wrote a memoir about leaving the city for a rural life in Vermont, farming, raising goats and making cheese (Goat Song). Now he embraces both subjects in his newest fiction about a Somali refugee in a Vermont monastery, the cloistered monk whose life is changed by her arrival, and an Afghan war vet looking for a reckoning with his past. It is an emotionally, politically and topically resonant work.