As a Friend: A Novel

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9780811217453: As a Friend: A Novel

An unforgettable, sensual novel by "one of the most gifted and accomplished poets of his generation" (Mark Rudman).

"Heroism is a secondary virtue," Albert Camus noted, "but friendship is primary." In his gem-like first novel, Forrest Gander writes of friendship, envy, and eros as a harmonic of charged overtones. Set in a rural southern landscape as vivid as its indelible characters, As a Friend tells the story of Les, a gifted man and land surveyor, whose impact on those around him (his friend Clay, his girlfriend Sarah) provokes intense self-examination and an atmosphere of dangerous eroticism. With poetic insight, Gander explores the nature of attraction, betrayal, and loyalty. What he achieves is brilliant in style and powerfully unsettling.

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About the Author:

Forrest Gander was born in the Mojave Desert and grew up in Virginia. In addition to writing poetry, he has translated works by Coral Bracho, Alfonso D’Aquino, Pura Lopez-Colome, Pablo Neruda, and Jaime Saenz. The recipient of grants from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim, Howard, Whiting, and United States Artists Foundations, he taught for many years as the AK Seaver Professor of Literary Arts & Comparative Literature at Brown University.

From Publishers Weekly:

An adoring friendship turns deadly in poet and translator Gander's visceral if too brief first novel. Les is the magnetic, godlike protagonist of this reflective four-part narrative: introduced at the time of his difficult birth to a teenage mother, he is put up for adoption. Years later, he is observed by Clay, a colleague on his land-surveying team in a small town in Arkansas, who finds his friend's mannerisms and dissembling so compelling that he apes Les and eventually betrays him. Les, a part-time poet and practical joker, is beloved for his eccentricities, especially by his second wife, Cora, and mistress, Sarah, whose poetic remembrances of Les after his suicide make up the novel's third section and reveal hopelessly guilt-ridden Sarah to be angry, grieving for her tender, quirky lover. Gander's passionate construction of Les reveals a character deeply conflicted, comprising enormous virtue and many flaws, though in the end the work remains piecemeal and incomplete, though nicely done. (Oct.)
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