Of the many reasons we read, to be shown something you haven’t seen before is at the top of my list.  Alice Mattison’s novel, Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn, does just that. This book has at its center a mysterious friendship between two very different women — flashy, confident Marlene, and quiet, worried Gert.  From the outside, which is the way Mattison shows us the friendship, they seem an unlikely pair. Gert’s daughter, Con, whose story this mostly is, watches the two women, longs for something like her mother’s friendship with Marlene and worries – about her own daughter, her work, her lost purse, her mother’s health.  These are familiar concerns, but Mattison is such a careful, brilliantly thoughtful observer that you see these people with startling clarity, the way you see fish at the bottom of the ocean on a calm day.

 Mattison’s great subject in this novel and in her earlier work is friendship.  Although I have written and thought about many things, it’s never occurred to me to look too closely at friendship.  But for days after finishing this wonderful book, I found myself thinking a great deal about my friendships.  There’s a lot to say, but it seems appropriate, on this first day of the year, to begin by saying how grateful I am for my friendships, which are rich, interesting, comforting and helpful.  In the three years I have been writing this blog, many of you have become my friends, if you weren’t already. That I would find friendship here is an unexpected pleasure of blog writing.  

Happy New Year to all of you!


22 thoughts on “Friendship

  1. And a happy new year to you! May this new year bring you continued friendships, perhaps a few new ones, and, of course, a whole year of fantastic reading!

  2. I think if I’d spotted this book on my own, I’d have picked it up solely on the strength of the title. But your recommendation cinches the deal! I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships myself, in the virtual realm and elsewhere, and feeling rueful about not nurturing mine properly of late. Perhaps a new year’s resolution on that front is in order.

    Happy New Year Lily!

  3. What a wonderful sounding book! I shall have to try to get hold of it, I can see. I do love novels that explore the rich promise of the seemingly mundane. Warmest wishes for a fun and loving 2009 Bloglily!

  4. Litlove, yes — a fun and loving 2009 seems like just the right thing to ask for. And the book is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. I hope you find it in England.

    Hello Lucette — I just discovered that you have a SECOND novel going — good luck with that! I’m looking forward to hearing how it’s going this year. xo

    Hello CP — Thanks for the link! Sounds like fun.

    Dear Heather, Yes, it’s a good thing to think about as the year start — all the things you have that you’re lucky to be able to continue having in the New Year. Often, new year’s goals are all about what you don’t have and wish you did.

    Hello dear Lokesh — Fish are on my mind, having just been on an ocean vacation!

    And a happy New Year to you too, Ms. Bride.

    Kate, Here’s to nourishing friendship, then!

    Dear Deborah, It’s going to be a wonderful year. Yes, I know things look uncertain and there are many difficulties. But I always find January a wonderfully hopeful month — I mean, as long as I don’t resolve to do anything really stupid, like lose 25 pounds!

    Charlotte — Wishing you good writing and good chocolate. xo, L

    Dear Gail, What a wonderful friend you are. I’m looking forward to a year when we actually both get to eat a meal or drink a hot drink together! Until then, there’s the writing group. But a smaller get together would be nice and I’ll work on getting organized and free for that.

    Dear Chelsea — What a lot of wonderful wishes! Happy New Year to you, and the same to you.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. I had no idea I was going to make so many wonderful friends when I began blogging, you included. It’s been a terrific bonus, and now what I most value about the whole experience (and if truth be told, it’s what’s helped me develop as a writer, because without the friends, I doubt I’d still be blogging). Oh, and I can see I must read this book.

  6. Isn’t it amazing how writing about books and reading and the joy it brings us,leads us to people we otherwise would never have met? I haven’t been around for a while, I’m sorry, because I love your blog! Happy New Year to you, and to all of us! And like Emily says, I might have to try the book too, since i am fascinated by the mysteries of friendship.

  7. Hello Susan, that’s the loveliest thought, thank you!

    Happy new year to you too U-Dad, congrats on finishing your program!!! Yay.

    Caryn, I think that’s very true. (And welcome by the way!)

    Dear Emily, Who knew? I just thought I’d have a place to put little essays and maybe every once in a while somebody I knew would read them and laugh. Which is kind of what happened, except many of those somebodies started out as total strangers and now, well, now they aren’t.

    Lisa — I can’t believe I have failed to thank you for this until now. THANK YOU! You are very sweet. (And so is DeAnna!)

    Dear DeAnna — I am thrilled you have de-lurked, and chagrined that I was away polishing cabinet pulls when this occurred. Thank you — it is really generous when people make gestures like this and I appreciate it more than I can say.

    And Happy New Year to you too Darling Ingrid!!

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