The Art of Literary Friendships

Tuesday night’s salon, entitled “Literary Friendships” was the kind of event that made you want to lean to the nearest person and whisper, “Will you be my friend?”

And not just any old friend. A literary friend. A friend who will read your work and respond with chafing honesty, who will send you postcards with microscopic handwriting from some sand-blown Arab country, who will argue with you about lyricism and ambition, maintain correspondence, promote your books, and follow you, accidentally or otherwise, all over the country.

There is really no summarizing the friendship between Brian Kiteley and Eli Gottlieb, but watching them interact gives one a sense of it. As different as they are, both personally and artistically, they have provided each other with years of support, criticism and feedback during what can otherwise be a very lonely pursuit. And not only did these novelists find a critic in each other, they found the friendship of poets to be particularly helpful. For both writer’s, the poet’s concern with “local intensity” served to counterbalance their own obligatory awareness of narrative structure.

And when they aren't writing, these poets and novelists help to promote each other’s work—yet another benefit of the literary friendship.

All of this good feeling was not overshadowed by the raucous Pat Benatar (or was it Joan Jett?) fans upstairs.