Can Dogs Help Us With Grief? In Sigrid Nunez’s Latest Novel, The Friend, You May Get Some Insight.

35457690.jpg

Meeting the Author and My Review:

Fortunate to have had the opportunity to see her speak,  I have not come across many authors who are as impressive, authentic and old school as Sigrid Nunez.  A true, lifelong writer for writing’s sake, not caught up in the business of marketing her work or following her reviews, Nunez seems focused on her craft, and just expressing herself and getting her story out of her head and onto the paper.

IMG_5945.jpg

According to the author, her novel, The Friend just flowed and formed itself on its own without an outline or a plan. A while ago she had been asked to do a 10 minute reading so she wrote what turned out to be the beginning of The Friend.  Soon after, she was asked to do a 25 minute reading so she added on and she felt she had something of a novel developing so she just continued to the end.  She did not do much research for this book; most of the story was meditative as the reader is alway in the consciousness of the book’s narrator.  Nunez chose to keep to the tone of a “hushed, intimate voice of someone writing a love letter” but did not write in a letter format.  She enjoyed the freedom of going from thought to thought, and felt this form was liberating and easier to write than in any other way.

Nunez is a big reader, and could never envision herself living a happy life without it.  She likes to write in the morning, at home or in the school library where she is teaching, (currently she is at Syracuse University) and works on only one project at at a time.

A writer her entire life, she is pleased, I am sure to get recognized by The New York Times (they published an article with the headline, “With ‘The Friend’, Sigrid Nunez Becomes an Overnight Literary Sensation, 23 Years and Eight Books Later”).  She is the winner of the National Book Award for Fiction 2018.

images-1.jpeg

The Friend is an unnamed woman’s story of grief after losing a lifelong friend to suicide and adopting his seemingly forlorn Great Dane, Apollo.  After meeting with her Friend’s 3rd wife who requested she adopt the pet, she agrees even though no dogs are allowed in her small apartment and she runs the risk of eviction.  The relationship with her Friend’s very large, aging companion becomes important to her and even though others believe she needs help to overcome her grief and back away from the unusual commitment to Apollo, she prefers to be with him rather than socialize with other people.  She assumes he misses his master and tries to understand what goes on in his head and his heart.

In the narrator’s voice, the author makes her own thoughts known regarding the writing community; she likens the publishing industry to a sinking ship, and mocks what could be a status builder, (the crazy but not altogether impossible idea of) a naked author calendar.  The narrator doesn’t believe people write for the right reason and interestingly enough, author Sigrid Nunez, through the voice of her narrator, has made her critical opinions known regarding the loss of integrity on the literary scene, and has unexpectedly received media attention with The Friend.

Throughout the story there is a lot to think about:

Philosophical questions and musings about reading and writing; “If reading really does increase empathy, as we are constantly being told that it does, it appears that writing takes some away.”

Publishing, and how literature has lost its quality;  “I recite your various gripes, which were not much different from those heard every day from other teachers: how even students from top schools didn’t know a good sentence from a bad one, how nobody in publishing seemed to care how anything was written anymore, how books were dying, literature was dying, and the prestige of the writer had sunk so low that the biggest mystery of all was why everyone and their grandmother was turning to authorship as just the ticket to glory.”

Dogs and their understanding; “What do dogs think when they see someone cry?”

The narrator talks about her Friend and his feelings about the benefit of walking as it contributes to creativity because it delivers a rhythm.  She tells stories of suicide, blindness, loss of speech, psychosomatic illness, sex trafficking and prostitution.

Does a good book have to deliver what the reader wants or is what makes it good the delivery of what the author wants to communicate?

I enjoyed The Friend and meeting Sigrid Nunez and hearing about her writing process and the inside scoop made me appreciate it even more!

Goodreads Summary

6633.jpg

About the Author:

Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and The Believer. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian American literature.

Sigrid’s honors and awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature. She has taught at Columbia, Princeton, Boston University, and the New School, and has been a visiting writer or writer in residence at Amherst, Smith, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California, Irvine, among others. In spring, 2019, she will be visiting writer at Syracuse University. Sigrid has also been on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and of several other writers’ conferences across the country. She lives in New York City.

Advertisements

A Writer’s Badass Guide: Branding, Blogging, and Social Media.

28CC85D0-8AC4-49DC-ADA8-BA7C612457EE.png

As stated on Amazon:

A Writer’s Badass Guide To Branding, Blogging and Social Media is a fun and easy step by step guide for new writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs. This book teaches writers how to conceptualize and develop their personal brand using meaningful and strategic exercises, create a website from soup to nuts, and utilize social media to promote their work. Nathalie Laitmon and Kristin McCarthy of SuburbanMisfitMom.com combine years of branding expertise with cutting edge social media strategies to assist writers and entrepreneurs in building an authentic and resonate brand that will get their writing read while growing their community of dedicated followers online. The authors use their offbeat sense of humor to motivate writers while demystifying the seemingly complex process of building a personal website and growing a brand.

 

12301540_134583323573564_9086784467688791719_n.jpg                       logo-SMM.png

Nathalie Laitmon is a Branding professional and Staffing Entrepreneur from Manhattan who conceived Suburban Misfit Mom while nestled in the suburban bliss and drama of idyllic New England. On a daily basis, Nathalie asks herself, “Who died and made me the adult?” And the hubbie, three kids, the house and dog thing? It never gets old. Nathalie’s passion for creating a community of like-minded moms who are REAL, HONEST and MULTI-FACETED is just one of her fantasies that women will support and embrace each other’s uniqueness. Other than writing essays and fiction, Nathalie’s passion is all about helping other writers build their brands and identify their authentic writing voices. She is interested in living a passionate, purposeful life and is found hiding inside the toy closet with her Kindle to figure out how. She is currently writing a novel about a cult in the suburbs. Nathalie is available for speaking engagements, brand consulting for companies and individual writers, focus groups and events that cull the power of the Suburban Misfit Mom community.

 

12295493_10153015273377242_5980868613535535042_n.jpgFour-Princess.jpg

 

 

 

 

Kristin McCarthy is the funny, snarky mastermind behind the blog Four Princesses and The Cheese.  This Midwestern Misfit Mama spends her days raising her four small daughters, vacuuming up Legos and Shopkins and swearing at the piles of laundry constantly surrounding her.  When she isn’t attending to her domestic duties, she can be found writing at Suburban Misfit Mom, Red Tricycle, and Parent Co.  Kristin has been published on a number of tolerant sites that put up with her ranty writings including Blunt Moms, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Bon Bon Break, Hooray For Moms, Practical Politicking, and Erma Bombeck.

My thoughts:

I have an advertising background, I am a blogger, and I do some small business marketing consulting which often includes social media…and I can’t believe how much I learned from this Badass Guide!  The Badass authors, Nathalie Laitmon and Kristin McCarthy helped me conquer the emotional and technical challenges of starting a blog…commitment, focus and authenticity paired with the basic, everyday computer obstacles someone of my age just might experience!  There is always more to learn and A Writer’s Badass Guide: Branding, Blogging and Social Media doesn’t disappoint.  Never have I seen a step by step guide that encompasses all the information needed to put out a cohesive, appealing  product into the virtual world…it’s not that daunting if you can follow directions.  You may begin to notice small changes on Book Nation by Jen here and there as I transform into a Badass…stay tuned!

This easy to read ebook can be preordered for delivery directly to your reading devise on April 1st for only $5.99. Order today on AMAZON  You won’t be sorry!