The Mysteries of Friendship, Illuminated by Spooky Quantum Physics

Louisa Hall in The New York Times:

“Lost and Wanted” is a novel of female friendship without the furious intimacy of, say, Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. It’s a novel about female friendship begun in America in the 1990s, when women didn’t talk about sexual harassment and friends didn’t talk about race. When women (and especially women of color) were trying to build careers for themselves and no one was acknowledging how much harder it would be for them than it would be for white men in their position, and trying to do so while having children, either with partners or on their own, and trying to balance all of that striving without ever giving anyone reason to believe that they were more emotional or less stable than any of their peers.

If this, then, is a somewhat remote female friendship, no wonder: Under such strain, the book seems to say, it’s incredible that women sustain any friendships at all. And yet, in this startling novel, even that distance between Charlie and Helen is moving. The space that opens between them reverberates with what might have been, if Charlie’s thesis adviser hadn’t been such a measly and repugnant predator, if Charlie hadn’t moved to Los Angeles, if Helen weren’t raising a child alone, if they’d both had more time, if Helen had understood Charlie’s illness, if she’d asked her all the questions she didn’t.

In this novel, which teems with lives, the versions of their friendship in which those errors didn’t occur seem to exist alongside the versions that did, and these alongside relationships with various partners, children, siblings, parents and colleagues. Reading it, I was moved by intimacies near and far, real and imagined, lost and found in all the echoing corners of the expanding universe.

More here.

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