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Book: Truth & Beauty

November 24, 2008
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Ann Patchett’s best friend was Lucy Grealy. Lucy was Her Person. Ann was Lucy’s Person. This is a story about their friendship.

I don’t feel like summarizing because how can you summarize a friendship? They met in college. They were roommates for a while after college. They became the closest of friends, complete opposites but meeting in the middle over writing. Ann describes herself as the ant, working hard steadily, putting up stores against the winter — and Lucy as the grasshopper, never planning ahead, living life to its fullest every day, and then shivering through the winter (but Ant always saves Grasshopper).

They both become successful writers. They both win prizes, make names for themselves. They talk every day, every other day. They are the bestest of best, closer than close.

Oh, and Lucy Grealy was a cancer survivor, left with a terrible disfigurement of her face, which haunted and pained her through her entire life. She had 37 surgeries to attempt to correct the damage. But, in so many ways, the damage was done.

In the end, of course, Lucy dies. Her life had spiralled out of control. Abruptly, suddenly, on the next-t0-last page of the book, she died. And clearly, Ann Patchett can hardly stand to live without her.

***

Although I could not get into Bel Canto for some reason, I adored Magician’s Assistant, and I really liked this book as well. It was supposed to be my transition book to get me out of mourning the end of The Terror. It was quite good and after about the first quarter, I was sucked in. However, apparently my life is currently exhausting me to the point where I can barely read more than a chapter or two a night, so it took me awhile to read it. Oh, and I read that other book, too. The brain one.

Anyway. What I wanted to say was this: I really enjoyed how this was a book about a friendship — where two lives intersected. It was not about Ann or Lucy, it was about Ann AND Lucy. I really liked that.

For some reason, I have been unaccountably blessed with a number of amazing friends. I have close friends and book friends and work friends, all kinds of friends. I really, really love all my friends. I don’t think of myself as someone who makes friends easily, so when I actually realize how many great friends I have, I’m kind of astonished. Like, “I did this? Really? Me?”

And I am doubly blessed to actually have a Best Friend. Two, in fact. I am rich beyond belief.

My best friend Erin is My Person In The World. Life goes up, life goes down. Erin is the constant. We’ve been best friends for almost 20 years. My life would not be my life without Erin. We have decided: we will never not be friends. It’s a pact.

My other best friend, D’Arcy, saved my sanity in Finland and we know each other in a secret-language type of way. She lives in Canada and we don’t get to see each other very often. But she knows Me in a way few people do. We spent the night in a stairwell together, watched a rat coming down the steps towards us. We’re bonded.

Neither of my best friends are anything like Lucy Grealy, who was, by all accounts, a bit of a brilliant mess. In fact, none of my friends are like this. But I really identified with the deep commitment and love that one has with a long-term friend. There are ups and downs. Sometimes you think you are Done. But you never are. The love goes deeper than you know. You know you will always do everything you can for this person, this Person In The World who is Yours.

***
(and now, a word from the author)
I hardly know what I’m writing right now. I’m very, very tired. I feel like my blog is becoming extremely dreary and self-centered (but if you can’t be self-centered on your own blog, where can you be?). All I can think about are mold-cleanup techniques, moving strategies, and what else we can get rid of so we don’t bring the mold with us. I feel totally crazy.

However, I’ve had enough of drowning, and we signed the lease, so now begins the climbing-out. I’ve got two good books waiting to be read, a beautiful apartment to move into, and I hereby declare this life trend On The Upswing.

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