“Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship,” Seneca counseled two millennia ago in his timeless meditation on true and false friendship, “but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.”
I often ponder friendship — that crowning glory of life — and the strain of protecting its sanctity from the commodification of the word “friend” in this age of social media. Adrienne Rich exposed the naked heart of it in her bittersweet assertion that “we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.” I side with astronomer Maria Mitchell in that the few who do accompany us intimately along the walk of life shape who we become, and with poet and philosopher David Whyte in that “all friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness.”
But what, really, is the meaning and measure of friendship? Like most things of beauty, it is slippery to define yet deeply felt. Paradoxically, devastatingly, it is often recognized most acutely through its sudden loss. It lives most intimately not in the grand gestures but in the littlest things that add up, in the final calculus of life, to the bigness of any true bond.
That is what children’s book author Sandol Stoddard and illustrator Jacqueline Chwast explore with immense sweetness and sensitivity in the 1965 gem I Like You (public library) — one of the tenderest and most touching presents I’ve ever gotten, from one of my dearest friends, and the platonic-love counterpart to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s classic romantic-love sonnet “How Do I Love Thee?”
Stoddard — who wrote more than twenty children’s books and the first major book advocating for human-centric end-of-life care, lived to be 90, and died the mother of five children, ten grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren — was once asked to identify the underlying theme across all of her books.
She answered simply, “Love.”
And love — that sweetest, most knotless and untroubled kind — is what radiates from these simple, surprisingly profound verse-like meditations on friendship, illustrated with the kindred sensibility of Chwast’s simple yet richly expressive black-and-white line drawings.
Published the same year as Love Is Walking Hand in Hand — that charming catalogue of little moments that define love, channeled by the Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the rest of the Peanuts — the book confers upon friendship the delight and dignity we tend to reserve, foolishly so, for romantic love only.
More than half a century later, I Like You remains a timeless treasure, as delicious to give and as it is to receive. Complement it with Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on losing a friend and Kahlil Gibran on the building blocks of meaningful connection, then revisit two other charming picture-books about friendship from the same era: Ruth Krauss’s infinitely delightful I’ll Be You and You Be Me, illustrated by the young Maurice Sendak, and Janice May Urdy’s clever reverse-psychology gem Let’s Be Enemies, also illustrated by Sendak, just as he was beginning to dream up Where the Wild Things Are.
Calm down, calm down now. Look, I’m just as excited about this as you are but I’m not about to spill this beer and I mean coffee all over my barely alive keyboard.
Yes, the rumors are true – Parker Posey has a new book out and I’m sure it’s genius. If you want to read about it you can do that HERE.
As many of you might know, Parker is somebody I am proud to call friend and let me tell you privately, she is good at being a friend. She doesn’t bug you but will always answer an email or a phone call. She’s a great date and pretends to love anything you might bring her. I think that’s classy. “Oh my god! A little ceramic…is it ceramic?… a little…it’s so… I love it. Thank you! How are you?”
Ok so – New Book – “You’re On An Airplane”
I haven’t read it yet so I won’t try to review it but I’m guessing by the title that it’s a bunch of suggestions for improv scenes? Right? Maybe like, “You’re on an airplane and a terrorist has just slit the pilot’s throat…” GO! -you feel me?
No? well….it could be.
It could also be a re-telling of all the times you passed out and the first things you remember hearing after you woke up? Maybe? No? Anybody? No?
Ok, so after I read it I will have a better understanding of what it is about and I will let you know. I’m excited about it because it doesn’t look too long. Right? Plus really long books are super heavy to carry around so you leave them at home and you never read them because there’s TV at home, obviously, why should you? Hey don’t act like you don’t know exactly what I”m talking about, Mr. “An Understanding of Sophocles” at The Beach. OK? Let’s keep it real here.
Now, there are two things that I would like to point out about Parker Posey’s new book that I have not read.
A. – Yes, that IS a leather turban.
And 2 –
Black Manicure – like ink from a type-writer ribbon.I get it.
Author, black manicure, probably using pens all the time – pretty smart, kid!!
Having worked in the past very intensely on a NYT best-seller (12 weeks, bitches) by a little lady with the last name of Sedaris , I can tell you that this book feels like a winner to my experienced touch, I mean…the cover does. To me, it looks like a hit. I of course, have not read this book but I have managed to write a post about it and drop two famous actress names in the process. See how I did that? That, my friend, is called creating entirely
“content free media.” Look around, it’s very popular, you’ll find it “on TV every night between All My Children and Jeopardy!!” Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you knew – that was from Paris Is Burning – not Pose. Don’t get me started with Pose. No hunney – I love Posey not Pose. I’m just gonna park it right here with Pose.
Congratulations to Michael and Kim and everybody in the Pansybeat Crew. Yo.
Please join author and mag mastermind. Michael Economy and the rest of the Pansybeat crew on May 4th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Printed Matter – 231 11th Ave, NY, NY 10001 – in the heart of OUCH (Outer Chelsea) as we celebrate the launch of this important publication. I’m predicting paper cups.
TELL EVERYBODY. TELL EVERYBODY NOW.
Good afternoon, Pansybeat Special Operator…
Yes maam, I have that link right here for you…
Yes, that’s right maam/sir, fresh copies of the Pansybeat book will be available to the general public for under forty dollars. Yes that’s right sir/madame I did say, under forty dollars.
I’ll tell you what miss/mister, you can barely get home from a Tyler Perry movie for under forty dollars. Not these days…and if you feel like Raisinettes – well – your in over fifty by the time you get home. Raisinettes are high. That’s true.
Between you and me I find this book more entertaining than most feature films as of late. I really do.
OK then sir/madame, I wish you a wonderful evening and I look forward to hearing about the event.
A must read. Dick’s tweeting during the Ladies’ finals was fun. His interview after the men’s final was coming from his sharp inside edge. Let’s all read Button. There will be a test later. I have a feeling this may be a page turner…
…and on Dick’s advice I present: Torvill and Dean – Bolero (1984 Olympics Sarajevo)
Now THAT’S ( ice ) Dancing!