Books Made of Paper

Lorrie Moore: ‘Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?’

Certain authors can write books that make you feel like you’re eating an ice cream sundae or getting a delicious massage. That is, if you’re into this stuff. If creative sentences packed with the kind of feeling that you can feel are the sort of thing you go for. If not, you will hate Lorrie Moore.

But I love her. I love her like I love sleeping in.

Okay, I’ll catch my breath and try to be a little less vague. Moore, who writes lots of wonderful short stories, wrote this short novel, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?, which takes place in the adult life of a woman in Paris. But most of the book is the remembrance of her teenage days in Horsehearts, New York, where her life revolved around being best friends with Sils.

If you’ve been reading this column, you probably know by now that I enjoy a good romp through the memories of teen-dom and it’s frequently what I write about. So imagine my enthusiasm when I found that I was reading not only the most gorgeous sentences on earth but also a story involving reminiscing about the confusion and complexity of being a teen girl.

Paramount is the all-important friendship. Many of us tend to put our best friends on pedestals–like this protagonist does with Sils–especially in middle school and high school when we’re desperate to be someone else and yet be accepted for who we are. I remember my best friend Gaelan’s house being an amusement park compared with my boring house and family. There was always something happening.

We wanted to wear each other’s clothes, know everything about each other’s crushes and experience everything together. Now we live on opposite sides of the country, are in totally different careers and she just got married.

I don’t put our friendship on a pedestal anymore. It sometimes takes work to overcome distance, whether it’s physical or otherwise. When I was her maid of honor, it was a year of long distance phone calls and trying to help and experience her wedding planning without seeing what was going on.

Gaelan and me on her wedding day

But at some point I realized that what she needed most was my emotional support. I didn’t need to be there for every step of the process. I’m always there and she knows that.

Did you have a friend when you were a teen who you could never imagine separating from? Where are you now? How do you stay close with your adult friends?

Images via The Guardian, Barnes & Noble and Narrative Images.

Top image from The Guardian.

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