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Friendship agonistes

A new book on friendship sets Lionel Shriver pondering the elastic nature of these relationships—sometimes frivolous, they can also inflame the same passions as romance

By Lionel Shriver   November 2011

Owing to my husband’s seven-year seniority, smoking, and lower male life expectancy, I should live two decades as a widow. So vivid is this dismal future in my mind’s eye that I already maintain a faint parallel universe, in which I rarely shop because I’ve no one to cook for and I can’t marshall the resolve for daily exercise with no one to lie to me about how well-preserved I look. Assuming a credible romantic exhaustion, what would keep me going?

My friends. Since in our ever longer-lived species some people will still live longer than others, droves of my…

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