As the former co-editor of Gawker and current co-owner of the e-bookstore Emily Books, thirty-two year old Emily Gould has been, as the National Post put it, "an ongoing target for controversy and abuse for close to a decade now." Before Thought Catalog, Marie Calloway, or Lena Dunham's Girls, Gould's blog Emily Magazine pioneered the confessional, "oversharing" literary mode that, lauded or lamented, has become one of the major tropes of the current social-media era.
Friendship, however, is no tell-all, though her first foray into fiction nevertheless sticks to themes and situations that will be familiar to readers of her essays (or Lena Dunham's TV show): young women coming of age in New York in the publishing business. As the title suggests, this is a book about the depth, profundity, and occasional tempestuousness of the friendships formed between women in their 20s and 30s. Gould never shies away from brutal honesty -- her quasi-autobiographical characters are petty, jealous, selfish, backstabbing, obliviously privileged and hopelessly self-involved -- but for all their faults, her protagonists are robust and fully-realized, and the close-up focus on the dynamics of their intimate interdependence, however unflattering, is still territory not often enough explored with such consideration. It is a book that is truly about women, and not only (or even mainly) in terms of their relationships with men.
Some readers will no doubt be lured in for the roman à clef elements that hint at the inner workings of the Gawker empire as of a few years ago, but Gould is not approaching novel-writing in the spirit of her previous media enterprise: Friendship is not a gossip aggregator. Its single-minded focus on its titular theme offers Gould a chance to embrace a level of earnestness not permitted by the precarious anxieties of professional blogging. It's a refreshing evolution for her as a writer, even if she hasn't stretched outside of New York or the writing world.
Critical responses so far have been wildly divided. Come pick up a copy and decide for yourself!