Friendship: An Expose (Hardcover)

An Expose

By Joseph Epstein

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780618341498, 288pp.

Publication Date: July 1, 2006



Just as his best-selling Snobbery argued that contemporary American snobbery isn t what it used to be, Friendship: An Expose begins with Joseph Epstein's feeling that friendship, too, is somehow different today. From the idealization of family time to the acceptance of gender equality, from technological leaps like e-mail and instant messaging to the (very recent) assumption that your husband or wife will be your best friend, Epstein charts the unexpected and surprising forces that have put pressure on and reshaped friendship.
Epstein sketches an amusing yet serious anatomy of friendship in its contemporary version: its duties and requirements ( Reciprocity, or Is It Obligation? ), the various kinds of friendships ( A Little Taxonomy of Friends ), the differences between male and female friendships, the complications marriage creates ( Friendship's New Rival ), even what happens when sex enters the equation. Moving easily from Aristotle to Seinfeld, and drawing on his own experiences with people great (Saul Bellow and Ralph Ellison) and unknown (an army bunkmate), he uncovers the rich and often surprising truths of friendship, illuminating those relationships -- contradictory, complicated, and wonderful -- without which we'd all be lost.

Praise For Friendship: An Expose

"Brisk and delightful . . . Engaging . . . 'Friendship' is spangled with winning turns of phrase." --John Freeman The Wall Street Journal

"As entertaining and illuminating as a leisurely lunch with a loquacious, literate friend." Kirkus Reviews

"Epstein lucidly. . .applies wisdom to his own life experience, producing a meditative memoir that is refined and modest in tone." Publishers Weekly

As always, [Epstein] works wonders with words . . . for more than two decades, he has been a national treasure. . . . Enthusiastically recommended." Library Journal Starred

"A fine companion for those who find listening to wry, erudite men holding forth on history and society a pleasure." --Elissa Schappell Elle

"Smart, delightfully literate and sophisticated." --Tim Rutten The Los Angeles Times

"Epstein is an adroit pulse-taker of changing mores." --Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett The Seattle Times

"Engaging, witty and heady. Epstein uses examples from Aristotle to Seinfeld to get at the heart of human relationships." --Gail Rosenblum Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Rich pickings . . . A thoughtful consideration of the pleasures and obligations of friendship . . . honest, unsparing and brimful of illuminating literary anecdotes." --William Grimes The New York Times

"A fascinating look at something that will remain important as long as we remain human." --Jeffrey M. Landaw The Baltimore Sun