“What we miss – what we lose and what we mourn – isn’t it this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are. To say nothing of what we wanted in life but never got to have.” – Sigrid Nunez, The Friend
Sigrid Nunez’ The Friend follows the story of a woman who has lost her dear friend and mentor. When he died, she adopted his Great Dane, Apollo. Together, they help each other overcome their shared grief.
The Friend, though, is much more than a simple dog story. The non-linear narrative explores themes of life and death. Nunez delves into the protagonist’s thoughts as a writer, a teacher, and on becoming the new owner of a Great Dane. Despite making few appearances, Apollo’s presence poignantly resonates throughout the book. We discover that Apollo, like his current owner, has an affinity for literature and loves to be read to.
Nunez’ writing is witty, solemn, and sparse. The result is soothing. The Friend is a mesmerizing meditation on writing and on life. I highly recommend this book to those who love literature and/or dogs.
More books about the bond between humans and animals…
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope–a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.**
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper’s son Pi Patel sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain (WorldCat.org).
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion … she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.**