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Comrades: A Lifetime of Friendships by Rosita Boland: A warm-hearted and moving meditation on friendship

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Author Rosita Boland

Author Rosita Boland

Comrades: A Lifetime of Friendships by Rosita Boland

Comrades: A Lifetime of Friendships by Rosita Boland

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Author Rosita Boland

In 1929, Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy wrote a short story called Chains in which he suggested that people are six (or even fewer) social connections away from each other. While I’ve never been quite convinced by this six degrees of separation theory, I have always been curious about the gaps between individuals, and how they open and close. For example, if a friend’s friend gets some bad news, you might be worried for your friend, and fleetingly though genuinely sympathetic for the suffering their friend is going through, but your attention moves on almost immediately. Putting any empathy for mass human suffering aside for a moment, we’re not programmed as individuals to carry the full weight of innumerable strangers within us.

So my first question when I picked up Comrades: A Lifetime of Friendships was: why should I care about the details of Rosita Boland’s relationships with people who are strangers to me? Yet, as this fascinating and warm-hearted essay collection demonstrates, Boland has clearly not only considered this question herself, but answers it with honesty, care and wisdom. As a result, what could have been a sequence of ‘so-then-we…’ vignettes becomes a moving meditation on friendship and the deep-seated need to find and retain human connections.


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