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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

My Friends

Emmanuel Bove

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To purchase My Friends

Title: My Friends
Author: Emmanuel Bove
Genre: Novel
Written: 1924 (Eng. 1986)
Length: 150 pages
Original in: French
Availability: My Friends - US
My Friends - UK
My Friends - Canada
Mes amis - Canada
Mes amis - France
Meine Freunde - Deutschland
I miei amici - Italia
Mis amigos - España
  • French title: Mes amis
  • Translated by Janet Louth

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Our Assessment:

B+ : small, well-told tale of a small man

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 17/7/2001 Sabine Rothemann
The LA Times . 16/3/1986 Julia O'Faolain
Die Zeit . 4/12/1981 Benjamin Henrichs

  From the Reviews:
  • "Statt einer romanhaften Handlung entfaltet Bove spiralenartig die immer gleichen Bemühungen seiner Figur. Dass diese zwanghafte Umtriebigkeit in Selbstläufertum endet, macht dieses Buch bis heute höchst aktuell. Und seine Sprache ist es, die diese Aktualität lebendig hält." - Sabine Rothemann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "This 50-year-old first novel is as buoyant as fresh bread. It is also sad, funny and engagingly written in short, sober sentences which seem to flow with the ease of everyday talk. Beneath this appearance, to be sure, lies the art which conceals art, for Emmanuel Bove's style is thriftily pared down and his choice of detail cleverly persuasive." - Julia O'Faolain, The Los Angeles Times

  • "Mit keinem Adjektiv macht Bove seinen Helden interessanter als er ist, mit keiner Metapher dramatisiert er Victor Bâtons undramatische Erlebnisse. Er ist ein langweiliger Schriftsteller, so, wie Tschechow, Kafka und Beckett langweilige Schriftsteller sind." - Benjamin Henrichs, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Victor Bâton lives off a small invalid pension as a young war veteran. He has high hopes but little ambition, he's restless but not driven, and when opportunity arises he shies away from it or ruins it by being overzealous.
       He likes to go to train stations, fascinated by the mass of people with destinations and purpose. In contrast:

I am poor, without friends, without luggage.
       There's a sameness to his life, as he approaches each day with that small glimmer of hope:
     Whenever I leave my house, I expect something to happen which will change my whole life. I wait for it until I go home again. That is why I never stay in my room.
     Unfortunately nothing has ever happened.
       My Friends describes some of the connexions he has made, people he has met and with whom he has established some kind of relationship -- only for it to have almost immediately collapsed. "I am looking for a friend", he admits -- while also acknowledging: "I do not think I shall ever find one." He certainly doesn't make it easy on himself, or them. When he finds a lover, he leaves it be at a one-night stand; when a man takes an interest in his welfare and arranges for a job for him he blows it by approaching his benefactor's daughter.
       Victor is tired of his solitude, but also finds it difficult to escape it. He claims: "For a little affection, I would share everything I possess", but he's also only willing and able to go so far. In fact, he wants a lot in return -- more than just someone: "to whom I could tell all my troubles".
       His is the self-absorption of the individual removed from the routines of general society. Without the stabilizing routine of family or working life he finds it hard to fit in anywhere. He tries, but he's always an odd man out -- and even if others are willing to adjust, he can't get over that feeling of not really belonging.
       Bove paints a nice picture of this small man and his aimless life, and it's particularly in the well-placed incidental observations and descriptions, the small asides, that Bove succeeds in conveying Victor's condition so well. An agreeable little novella.

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My Friends: Reviews: Emmanuel Bove: Other books by Emmanuel Bove under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Emmanuel Bove lived 1898 to 1945.

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