Heading Out Review
Don’t be deceived with the aid of using the brevity of Sigrid Nunez’s new novel, What Are You Going Through. Like its National Book Award-prevailing predecessor, The Friend, this great portrait of woman friendship, growing old and loss packs extra perception into its slightly two hundred pages than many severe novels two times that length.
The novel’s unnamed narrator is a writer whose middle-elderly friend, demise of cancer (“fatal,” as she prefers to mention instead of “terminal”), asks her to function a accomplice withinside the New England apartment residence wherein she plans to stop her lifestyles with a “euthanasia drug”—while she confesses that “you weren’t my first choice” for this tough assignment. Over the route of the succeeding weeks, with a “new intimacy that made secrets and techniques and lies intolerable,” and that at numerous moments is touching, profound or even wryly humorous, the girls bond over shared testimonies in their lives, vintage movies, music and fairy tales, in some thing the narrator’s ex-companion observes “does sound a touch like a sitcom. Lucy and Ethel Do Euthanasia.”
Borrowing the outlet line of Ford Madox Ford’s novel The Good Soldier—“This is the saddest tale I even have ever heard”—Nunez confronts the truth of demise with out succumbing to despair. Whether she’s summarizing the fantastic plot of a serial killer potboiler or recounting a communique among the narrator and a “as soon as stunning woman” on the gym, she’s an economical, sleek storyteller. She additionally touches lightly however provocatively on topics like weather change, the #MeToo movement and the malign impact of Fox News on one aged woman’s psyche, then eases her tale alongside nearly earlier than we realise it.
Sooner than she might like, the narrator faces the truth that what she’s come to consider as a “fairy tale” will stop, and that, paradoxically, “the saddest time that has additionally been one of the happiest instances in my lifestyles will pass. And I’ll be alone.” It’s an excellent wager that maximum readers will percentage that equal wistful feeling after they attain the novel’s very last page.