Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review: Into the Tangle of Friendship by Beth Kephart

How do you describe friendship? How do you put into words, without sounding trite or overly sentimental, the essence of what a friend is? Beth Kephart manages to do this terribly difficult thing in a lyrical meditation on the meaning of friendship, how it changes, who we befriend, and why it is important in our lives through her experiences of her own friendships and her observations of her son's and her husband's as well. This is not a funny chronicle of the things she and her friends have done. It is a more spiritual examination of the power of friendship. It is a thoughtful, ruminative writing on just how friendship changes and enriches our life, in small ways and large. As Kephart discovers, our friends help define us, even if they are only briefly a part of our lives. But they round us out and offer themselves to us and Kephart has captured the elusive beauty of this fact with her poetic and honest writing. This book, like the other book of hers that I read, is not a straightforward narrative, relying on the skillful weaving of a descriptive and flowing style to pull together the thread of her thoughts. Billed as a memoir, the chapters have the feel of interconnected essays as much as anything. I would have liked a little more meat to the book but overall, it was a soothing reading experience.

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