Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Friends” as Want to Read:
My Friends
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Friends

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  249 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Emanuel Bove's first novel, My Friends, relates the story of Victor Baton, a wounded war veteran trying to reestablish his prewar lifestyle but avoid work. Living in a run-down boardinghouse, Baton spends his days searching working-class Paris for the modest comforts of warmth, cheap meals, and friendship, but he finds little. And despite his situation, Baton remains vain ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published February 25th 2000 by Marlboro Press (first published 1924)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Friends, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Friends

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 737)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mike Puma
Oct 05, 2012 Mike Puma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-author, 2012

Have you ever relocated to a place a long way from that you consider home, that place where your friends and family remain? Have you done so with some hope for a better future? Has it happened that the move was accomplished with fewer resources than would have made the move much easier, or at the very least, where greater resources—wealth—might have made that transition much easier? Have you noticed that you notice everything? Has it occurred to you that the worst part about a move like that was

Sometimes a book comes along that is so good that I don't know what to say. How do you express speechlessness in writing?

Every page contained perfect sentence after perfect sentence. Sentences that were both funny and sad at the same time. Like crystallizations, clear and precise. But above all, simple sentences--Bove makes writing seem easy, even self-evident, when it is obviously not.

Beckett says Bove has an instinct for the essential detail like no other, and I cannot agree more.

Apr 14, 2012 knig rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: MJ Nicholls
Shelves: 2012
Lets talk about the mystery of the unique French invention of concierge, rampant in its heyday of 1920s Paris. What manner of beast is it? Here is what I can deduce: withered old crone (invariably), comfortably ensconced in a freebie flat on the parterre of a block of flats, tasked with the baton of promoting virtue and morality, which should always be accomplished by bombastically parading up and down the stairwell, broom in hand (for show only: no cleaning ever seems to be done) and sermonisin ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, this is a perfect novel. Perfect tone, voice, tempo. Perfect sentence by sentence. (I mean, is there a more tidy, well-crafted, luminous sentence than "Raindrops were falling on the ground, never one on top of another."- and I can't even tell you why it's perfect, it just is). All the perfect strange phrasing. ("In the morning we should go by taxi to the Bois de Boulogne. The driver's elbows would move." "I had no intention of dying, but I have often wanted to arouse pity. As soon as a pass ...more
Feb 18, 2015 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: smoke hanging in the sky
Recommended to Mariel by: Geoff & Jimmy
Solitude, what a sad and beautiful thing it is! How beautiful when we choose it! How sad when it is forced upon us year after year!
Some strong men are not lonely when they are alone, but I, who am weak, am lonely when I have no friends.

It is my inside thought, that Marieling voice that's white lonely, that he wanted to be alone. What would he have left if he settled his light dust? Would his spirits soar ever higher, new glass sky shards, past changing atmosphere windows, heavenly doors. Baton
MJ Nicholls
Jul 04, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: knig
Yes. Hell and expletive yes. As ever, other reviewers have capably articulated my thoughts for me, so there’s no reason to read this when you can read Geoff Wilt, Knig-o-lass, Jimmy, Adam Florida and Mark Zero’s fine reviews. I won’t provide links, since they’re easily findable by looking above (or below) this sparse paragraph. All I can say is: heartbreaking and melancholy, perfectly realised, the real deal. Universal. Read it. But don’t listen to this after.
Adam Floridia
This is yet another book I never would have discovered were it not for My Friends. My Goodreads Friends. A few of My Friends read this recently, and their reviews were very laudatory. So I decided to trust My Friends, most of whom I have never met but merely typed to in isolation, alone at my computer.

Because My Friends' reviews were so positive (I want them to know that I trust their reviews because I want them to continue being My Friends since "friendship would be such a great comfort to me"
Jan 06, 2016 Laurent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
'Is mijn leven dan zo abnormaal dat het de wereld aanstoot geeft? Ik kan het niet geloven.'
Sublieme roman over eenzaamheid, pijn en vervreemding, maar ook de wil om te leven en de moeizame zoektocht naar verlossing en loutering. Korte, krachtige zinnen die met slechts enkele subtiele wendingen en een verbluffend oog (en oor!) voor details een van intensiteit huiverend en zinderend universum vol duisternis en wanhoop oproepen. Knappe vertaling van Angèle Manteau.
Dec 31, 2015 Sean rated it liked it


If I'd read this before reading A Singular Man, I'd likely have enjoyed it more. However, I found that other novel to be more compelling in its design. My Friends, Bove's first book, is less a novel and more a series of vignettes. While I often enjoy 'novels' of this nature, the similarities between the two narrators and their activities are so striking that My Friends ends up reading like a less evolved version of A Singular Man. That being said, there is still a lot to enjoy here courtesy
Mark Broadhead
Sep 04, 2015 Mark Broadhead rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french
Proto Beckett. Beckett learned everything from this book. Not sure when he read it, but the character and the style are very similar to Watt.
rien va
Nov 21, 2015 rien va rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Libro magnifico, recentemente ripubblicato da Feltrinelli in edizione economica.
Bove è un autore che non scrive storie di trama, ma storie di punti di vista, potremmo dire, sullo stare al mondo. Questa è una storia di solitudine - il titolo è ironico - e di disperazione, il protagonista è un reduce della Prima Guerra Mondiale che vive di una piccola pensione di invalidità in una Parigi che conosciamo solo attraverso piccoli appartamenti miserabili, bordelli, ristoranti alla buona che servono bot
Dec 13, 2015 Janasbooklook rated it really liked it
Shelves: klassiker

Victor Baton ist in den Zwanzigern und Kriegsinvalide und er ist ein einsamer Mann. Nichts wünscht er sich sehnlicher als einen Kameraden, einen Freund. Er möchte jemanden der ihn akzeptiert und den er akzeptieren kann. Jemand der Freud und Leid mit ihm teilt.

Leider neigt Baton dazu seine Zuneigung zu schnell zu verschenken. Er lernt jemanden kennen indem er bspw. jemandem Feuer gibt oder ähnliches. Man kommt daraufhin ggf. ins Gespräch und Victor legt soviel in die Worte und Gesten
Emmanuel Bove’s slender first novel My Friends follows World War One veteran Victor Baton down some of the the seediest alleys in Paris in a futile search for companionship. The novel’s title is ironic because, in fact, Baton has no friends, and though his misery would love to find some company, Baton chooses potential friends poorly and is either betrayed by or alienates them each in short order. The novel is charming in its sympathy for the down-and-out, for characters who don’t fit into the o ...more
Nov 07, 2009 Tlsmith rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book of all time. However, I have found that it is not for everyone. The story follows a very sad fellow through a few chapters of his friendless life in Paris. There is something about the melancholy and drab hues of his life that Bove captures effortlessly. He is a master of subtlety which makes even the most terrifying episodes of his character's life feel like soft cashmere. If you are looking for linear storytelling and a happy ending do not continue; if you like to cont ...more
Simone Subliminalpop
"Bove fu in effetti tra i primi grandi scrittori della periferia (ciò che corrisponde così bene alla sua scrittura eccentrica), consapevole non solo che non c'è niente di meno marginale dei margini, ma che ai margini della vita c'è sempre un sovrappiù di vita." - dalla postfazione di Beppe Sebaste
Shelley Day Sclater
Feb 07, 2016 Shelley Day Sclater rated it it was amazing
Shelves: besties
I came across this novel by chance whilst researching something else and what a find! Translated from the French and set in Paris in about 1920, praised, I understand, by Rilke, Colette, and Beckett. I read it in one, start to finish, completely captivated by the central character Victor whose strange preoccupations and off-the-wall voice speak a much greater truth than anything I've ever read before. I'd say this was just about the perfect novel. The voice is unique, unmistakeable, unfaltering. ...more
Aug 20, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
One of those books where I relate to the narrator…but don't like that I relate!
Kobe Bryant
Aug 12, 2015 Kobe Bryant rated it really liked it
It must have sucked to have been a loner before the internet
Nov 13, 2011 AC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels-french
A very sweet read...
Thomas T.M. Wentonik
Jun 04, 2016 Thomas T.M. Wentonik rated it it was amazing
Spartan sentences. Sublime observations. Untrustworthy narrator. Friendless malcontent. Self sabotage. Hopeless cause. Perfect book. One sitting. (Racism and misogyny?).
Boris Lafky
Apr 07, 2016 Boris Lafky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vicino a Perec, a Walser. Presenza per negazione.
bove, σ'ευγνωμονούμε για τον victor bâton.
Cora D
Apr 13, 2013 Cora D rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist
Quisiera pensar que hay un solo motivo para decir que es uno de mis libros favoritos, pero no hay uno solo. La prosa es lcuidada, el personaje simplemente encantador, las situaciones, las descipciones. Es perfecto es tristemente perfecto. Creo que esa es la mejor descripción. Un hombre tan romanticamente mediocre sólo puede enamorar.
Jan 08, 2012 Stephen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
Read it hoping it would be as good as the same author's Winter Journal, but found it sadly lacking in that books dismalness or psychological acuity. This one was more charming, a little, but without the desperation of Bove's protagonist in Winter Journal, it seemed to me a little flat.
Blake Nelson
Dec 17, 2012 Blake Nelson rated it it was amazing
A 24 year old unemployed weirdo wanders around 1920's Paris. He describes people in his life, the circumstances of his life, the weird emptiness of his life. It's not hard to read something like this (plotless) if it's really short and to the point, and this is.
May 09, 2015 Bryan rated it really liked it
A companion piece to Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge written about more or less the same topics in the same city in the same era. Being poor and 19 was hard in the 20s.
Apr 11, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece. This book describes humanity, what it really mean to be a human and how we act towards each other. It is sad that this book is not better known.
Joseph L.
Jun 23, 2008 Joseph L. rated it it was amazing
this is the saddest thing i have ever read and beautiful.

this is what people recommend instead of the fucking stranger.
Dec 21, 2015 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oliver is currently reading it
Jul 27, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Witch Grass
  • Mount Analogue
  • The Inquisitory
  • The Robber
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Hôtel Splendid (European Women Writers)
  • Bruges-La-Morte and the Death Throes of Towns
  • Monsieur Teste
  • Camera
  • The Lady and the Little Fox Fur
  • Fatale
  • Mouchette
  • The Island of Second Sight
  • Last Nights of Paris
  • A Splendid Conspiracy
  • Tomb for 500,000 Soldiers
  • Jealousy
  • Commentary
Emmanuel Bove, born in Paris as Emmanuel Bobovnikoff, died in his native city on Friday 13 July 1945, the night on which all of France prepared for the large-scale celebration of the first 'quatorze juillet' since World War II. He would probably have taken no part in the festivities. Bove was known as a man of few words, a shy and discreet observer. His novels and novellas were populated by awkwar ...more
More about Emmanuel Bove...

Share This Book

“Raindrops were falling on the ground, never one on top of another.” 1 likes
“It is strange how everything changes when you are not there.” 0 likes
More quotes…