Kirkus Reviews QR Code


A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can't Live Without

by Julie Klam

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59448-806-1
Publisher: Riverhead

Zealous, funny and rambling accounts of a New York writer's many friendships.

Klam (Love at First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself, 2011, etc.) describes herself on the first page as "a middle-aged person who uses the term 'BFF' without irony." Her meandering text goes on to describe the multiple varieties of her friendships, starting in childhood. The cast of regulars features Barbara, a friend from fifth grade; Jancee, a fellow writer she met on a hayride in the ’90s; and Ann and Laura, co-hosts with Klam of an NPR radio show. The list of friends goes on and on and on; the good news is that it's not hard to see why. While there's nothing particularly compelling here, Klam's voice is often flat-out hilarious. She retains the dry, self-deprecating tone of fellow conversational memoirist Jen Lancaster, and no matter how stale or hackneyed the subject, Klam never fails to come up with terrific comic vignettes and sharp one-liners. Her witticisms mostly compensate for such occasional platitudes as, "Friendship might be free, but it requires a real, solid investment." The book is organized by subject, with chapter titles like "You Hate My Husband/I Hate Your Wife" and "Don't Be a Drain." Within these categories, Klam offers advice on how to manage platonic relationships, but she avoids being preachy by sticking mainly to her own life. Threaded through the chapters are observations about her daughter and the myriad ways in which having a child has affected, even enhanced, Klam's social life.

Somewhat glib but highly entertaining.