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My Friends

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  20 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)
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Mike Puma

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 4 of 5 stars
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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"
Aug 15, 2015 Corvid rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015


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
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
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
Kobe Bryant
It must have sucked to have been a loner before the internet
A very sweet read...
bove, σ'ευγνωμονούμε για τον victor bâton.
Cora D
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
this is the saddest thing i have ever read and beautiful.

this is what people recommend instead of the fucking stranger.
Aug 20, 2015 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
One of those books where I relate to the narrator…but don't like that I relate!
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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
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“Raindrops were falling on the ground, never one on top of another.” 0 likes
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