August 24th, 2021

Louise’s committed patronage of her local book shop has yielded so much treasure. Last week, it was The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez.

I don’t know if buying this book was a result of a fruitful exchange with the shop’s owner or manager, or whether it was pure serendipity, though I suspect it was the former. It was a hit. The Friend is Nunez’s second to last novel. She has written eight.

It seems to me that the transformative nature of experience is very dependent on the context in which it’s lived; in this case, timing was everything for Louise and this wonderful book. At a moment when her heart was still aching with grief, The Friend was placed in her hand. And so, she was able to extract so much more from it. It brought her both sadness and consolation–and the perspective that’s only possible with the passage of time.

Here’s the quote she chose from The Friend:


Rien n’a changé. C’est toujours aussi simple. Il me manque. il me manque chaque jour. Il me manque tellement.

Mais que deviendrais-je si ce sentiment disparaissait? Je ne voudrais pas que cela se produise.

C’est ce que j’ai dit au psy` qu’il ne me manque plus ne me rendrait pas heureuse, pas du tout.

On ne bouscule pas l’amour comme dit la chanson (You cant hurry love). On ne bouscule pas la peine non plus.”

Sigrid Nunez- L’ami

In the original English of the novel:

Nothing has changed. It’s still very simple. I miss him. I miss him every day. I miss him very much.
But how would it be if that feeling was gone?
I would not want that to happen.
I told the shrink: it would not make me happy at all not to miss him anymore. You can’t hurry love, as the song goes. You can’t hurry grief either.”

― Sigrid Nunez, The Friend


  1. “GRIEF”, Gene Gould
  2. The Friend, book cover
  3. “Grief”, Matthijs Maris (1839-1917)

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