Emily Gould, ex-professional gossip, blogger, author, co-owner of Emily Books, and proud cat mama, is my literary hero these days. Gould, who ran into her fair share of controversy while she worked as an editor for Gawker in her 20s, recently released her quasi-autobiographical novel, Friendship. The book has already caused its own special sort of stir: provocative profiles of the writer can be found sprinkled throughout the web like confetti, and a flood of book reviewers have very vocally taken issue with the book and its storied author. Do we like this Brooklyn-based, Twitter/Gmail/Facebook/Blogosphere era story, or do we hate it for its arguable narcissism and generational elitism?
Maybe predictably, I liked this book. I liked it a lot. Friendship, much like GIRLS (although I really want to avoid the comparison, especially since the whole Gould vs. Dunham debacle is still so fresh), examines the unconventional life of young women who place priority in their passions, rather than practicality. The story centers around Amy Schein and Bev Tunney, who have been best friends for a long time. They’ve spent their 20s in New York, comforting each other with wine and sushi, distracting one another at work while on G-chat, and dealing with crap when it gets real. Bev has a one-night stand and gets pregnant, and this inevitably affects their friendship.
Although in an interview with NY Mag, Gould says Friendship isn’t very autobiographical, it definitely gives off that vibe. Amy as a character is really similar to Gould in that both worked for a high-profile celebrity website in New York. While Amy got fired, Emily quit (and both ran into problems with higher-ups because of this). Amy is originally from Maryland, and so is Emily. I can go on, but you get the point. Even though I don’t live in New York and don’t (or at least, haven’t) run into the same life-altering and difficult obstacles Amy and Bev do, I still relate in a very real way.
Regardless of whether you’re a blogger, grad student, or publishing assistant, the characteristics of belonging to a world that is very Internet-dependent, and certainly in love with the aspect of its immediacy and instant-gratification resonate in some way. Amy, at times, has this very toxic relationship with the Internet, and I know, as writer myself, how easy it is to let the Internet get to me. Bev, on the other hand, goes through another kind of crisis. She dropped out of grad school, and to pay back the year’s worth of loans, she starts temping. Not exactly a glamorous job for a 30-year-old with dreams to be a fiction writer.
Friendship, above all, is about the hardships of adulthood. “Adulthood,” a very tossed-around phrase these days, encompasses and illuminates relationships, sex, careers, being able to pay our credit card bills on time, saying no, saying yes, going with our inexperienced guts, and understanding when we’ve won and when we’ve lost. I appreciated Friendship, because it made me feel less alone. I’m almost nothing like Amy OR Bev, but I still found comfort in their fumbling odysseys. And I think you will too.