"Wasn't friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?"
Over what remains of my life, I strongly suspect I'll never again read a book about friendship that will top A Little Life. But before you begin reading it, be advised: The intensity of Hanya Yanagihara's 2015 novel can be emotionally exhausting. If you avoid catharsis when reading, this book is not for you.
"I know my life is meaningful because I'm a good friend. I love my friends, and I care about them, and I think I make them happy."
And though the prose is - like that passage - utterly straightforward, this is now the most marked-up book in my collection. I kept underlining, folding down pages, returning to re-read my annotations, stopping long enough only to collect myself. How can a book of over eight hundred pages have not one clunky sentence? As painful as it could be, the richness and depth of the characters compelled me to continue. A Little Life might be my most immersive reading experience of the past ten years.
"...the only trick of friendship, ...is to find people better than you are - not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving - and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you , and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad - or good - it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well."
When my niece read that passage at my June book jam, A Little Life went in my queue. I'm pleased - despite my caveat about its intensity - I took the emotional plunge. It's been a banner year for novels - four home runs so far: The Overstory (Richard Powers), The Good Lord Bird (James McBride), So Long, See You Tomorrow (William Maxwell) and now A Little Life. And still five months left. Cool.