I couldn’t understand at first how anyone could get a novel like #TheFriend published. That’s #SigridNunez’s new novel. Till I realized that one can get a novel like The Friend published when one is an absolute genius. Nunez is. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. One of the most AMAZING things about #Nunez’s craft is how she uses plain language to rake and till the reader’s heart and world without foregoing some perfect if lugubrious balance between winners and losers in this race called living. While long sentences are infrequent, her short, crisp ones are balanced yokes reminding readers of suffering — about the #humancondition — which is to be outrageously yoked as a mewling, puking thing to that rumbling, creaking thing called life at both ends, birth and death. All experience weighted down at both possible ends — equally, to be fair — until surviving is the same as dying, only later, harder.
Inevitable, impossible paired conundrums, which in the end are what life offers a joyride on.
Nunez writes, for instance, in language that might fool one as being simple, “At seventy-five, thirty years after O’Connor’s death from Lupus at the age of thirty-nine, Hazel Elizabeth Hester [OMG someone really named a daughter ‘Hester,’ recklessly, with aplomb?], known as Betty, shoots herself to death” (141).
Can a sentence be more like a pitiless yoke itself, galling the chattel harnessed to it like humans harnessed to life, cutting off escape at both ends? Can the articulation of an experience of being closed in and weighed down at either end — #Jean-PaulSartre’s NO EXIT, that thing called #laconditionhumaine — happen through a more vivid syntactic structure? I think not. The anecdote Nunez relates is about an unofficial mentee of Flannery O’Connor who later alienated herself from the solitary celebrity, and is about, among other things, literary ambition and disappointment as two ends of the same yoke: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
With both authors — though one is fulfilled and at peace, and the other unpublished and lost in THE WORD — dead and weighing down both ends of that galling sentence like ‘dead’weights, hasn’t Nunez given us a new carapace for for humanity’s slow, sad song whether we write or not?
Would love knowing if you’ve read #THEFriend and what you think.