The Friend

After having spent so much time on Mars and thinking about the horrible fate of Earth and over population and climate change, The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez, was a nice change, a quick read that I finished in an afternoon. And it was about one of my favorite subjects, dogs. The main character’s friend has committed suicide and she is asked to take in his Great Dane. What I didn’t expect was how thoughtful and interesting the book would be. The character and her friend are both writers and she quotes extensively from a wide range of writers about various subjects.

But it is the dog, the silent character, who also intrigued me. How do animals mourn the loss of their owners, how do they cope with change, and how does a new person learn their habits and fill the void. Apollo is huge and the woman’s apartment is small. She starts to want to be with him as much as possible, only leaving him alone when absolutely necessary. But Apollo also learns about her, comforts her, and helps her through the grief of losing her friend.

This book ended up being different than I expected in all the best ways and if you like reading, writing, and dogs, I highly recommend it.

When you’re lying in bed full of night thoughts, such as why did your friend have to die and how much longer will it be before you lose the roof over your head, having a huge warm body pressed along the length of your spine is an amazing comfort. (loc 1521)

It is curious how the act of writing leads to confession. Not that it doesn’t also lead to lying your head off. (loc 1680)

What we miss—what we lose and what we mourn—isn’t it this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are. (loc 2513)