As a Friend: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


An exquisitely observed tale of friendship, jealousy, betrayal and loss—each electrified by a palpable current of lust. Told in four distinct narrative styles, this is a portrait in silhouette of a darkly charismatic poet and land surveyor from the sweaty, rural South. The writing is exceptional—Gander has a pitch-perfect lyric feel for evoking landscapes and unlocking human psychology with a distilled, potent image. As A Friend is a dark jewel of a book, to be read and re-read, by one of our country's most skilled writers.

— From John

Description


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.

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.

Praise For…


In this strange and beautiful novel as in life, love is part of what is sacred. 
— Jeanette Winterson

The clarity of artistic vision, formal innovation, and emotional honesty of As a Friend are enviable.

— J. T. Townley

An adoring friendship turns deadly in poet and translator Gander's visceral if too brief first novel. 

Its length is an asset...lending the book the same mercurial qualities as its ostensible subject, the doomed, magnetic Les.
— Joyelle McSweeney
Product Details
ISBN: 9780811217453
ISBN-10: 0811217450
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: September 17th, 2008
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: New Directions Books