Friends Like Us, is being published by Knopf on February 14.
I read Fox’s first novel, Still Life with Husband, when it first came out, but I wasn’t really involved with her event, and if we met, it was briefly. But for Friends Like Us, it’s been a different story. Jason and I saw Fox at the Great Lakes Booksellers conference, where she was part of the reading room series. Then she was at the store for another authors’ launch event. And then we got to chat again at the holidays. And there I found out that her childhood babysitter was our good friend Rose Anne. And there are probably 700 other connections. So it goes when you work on the floor of a bookstore, but even more so when you own it, I suppose.
The new novel is about a young woman sort of stuck in the maturity process. I kind of call this genre slacker novels, only I wonder whether this denigrates them. That’s not the case—I read plenty of them. In fact, we just hosted novelist and poet Leigh Stein, whose novel The Fallback Plan certainly fits the bill.
Willa, however, writes freelance copy for an ad agency, and also works in a flower shop. I wouldn’t exactly call her a flower arranger as that implies a skill that she doesn’t exactly have. Her friend Jane clean houses, babysits, and writes poetry, Her once-gawky high school friend, now filled out? He’s a part-time librarian sans MLS, which is pretty much bookseller equivalence.
So Ben’s back and though he’s got his eye on Willa, she can’t get past the high-school friendship and so he winds up dating her best friend Jane. Willa’s got, well, issues. Her parents had a messy divorce. Her brother has a series of messed-up relationships and has recently been kicked out of his apartment for yet another. She’s had a short-lived affair with her boss, only he pushed her aside for someone else.
That sort of aside makes me wonder what it would be like to have Fox write a collection of humorous essays. And then I start thinking of how much fun everyone will have at Fox’s event at Boswell. She’s speaking/reading on Thursday, February 16, at 7 pm. Hope you’ll join the celebration, and you’ll be forgiven and even welcomed if you make a few jokes along the way.