Into the Tangle of Friendship
A Memoir of the Things That Matter
By Beth Kephart
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618033874, 224pp.)
Publication Date: September 2000
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With her first book, A SLANT OF SUN, Beth Kephart wrote about parenting and drew us, in the words of the National Book Award jurors, into a world of timeless and universal themes: the art of mothering, the cost of difference, and the difference one individual can make.” In her second work of nonfiction, she again explores something we often take for granted friendship and invites us to see it as if for the first time.
Beginning with the rediscovery of a long-lost best friend, INTO THE TANGLE OF FRIENDSHIP follows the intertwining stories of a cast of characters for whom friendship is a saving grace. We meet a next-door neighbor facing the death of a spouse, watch two young boys learn what it means to be friends, and feel the heartache of a professional caregiver whose compassion and dedication ultimately come up short. Kephart is concerned with the haphazard ways we find one another, the tragedy, boredom, and sheer carelessness that break us apart, the myriad reasons people stay together and grow. What is friendship, and what is its secret calculus? Telling stories to illuminate this question, she also engages us in an essential dialogue about what it means to be fully alive.
Profound, original, and exquisitely written, INTO THE TANGLE OF FRIENDSHIP is a hymn to the intimate realities of our lives and what makes those lives not only worth living but magical. It will resonate with anyone who has ever had a friend, or lost one.
"Beth Kephart is my friend. After reading her soaring meditation on friendship, I have come to understand the vast extent of my good fortune. For Beth, friendship is more than casual sociability: it's a gift, it's an art form, it's a righteous cause, and it's civilization's unifying force. She writes with winning passion; her sentences are crafted from measured complements of love and intelligence." -- Ken Kalfus
"Beth Kephart's flawless, tensile prose speaks to us with immediacy and grace." --Jayne Anne Phillips, author of MotherKind
"Beth Kephart's writing is dazzling, her reflections restorative." --Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
"Kephart...lyrically and poignantly explores the dimensions of friendship." --Lucille M. Boone Library Journal
"With grace and quiet wisdom, with lyrical prose and astonishing insight, Beth Kephart...embarks on a journey..." --Jan Winburn The Baltimore Sun
"Kephart's meditation will trigger poignant memories in her readers, who may feel moved to find a lost friend..." --Donna Seaman Booklist, ALA
"Invigorating...earnest and endearing. Kephart succeeds at drawing a stirring picture of our humanity through the prism of her... relationships." Salon
"Kephart is nothing short of a virtuoso when it comes to dissecting the many friendships people experience." --Doris Bloodworth Orlando Sentinel
"Kephart's writing is luminous, filled with phrases so precise that they are worth committing to memory." Publishers Weekly, Starred