A good walk

By AMY FINCH  |  August 9, 2010

The book opens: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." But Caldwell's version of this old story — unlike, say, the clinical precision of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking — is marked by its generosity and warmth.

And its precision, as well. When Caroline is no longer able to talk, the parallel tracks and silence, which had nourished their friendship, remain. "I would spend hours at the end of her bed, not knowing much of the time if she even knew I was there. But Caroline and I had begun our friendship with a bond devoted to the elegant truths of nonverbal language: the physicality and hand signals and eye contact that dialogue with an animal entailed." Caldwell brings Knapp a dog T-shirt she'd loved. It reads "SIT! STAY!" on the back. "I knew all about sit-stay, and how straightforward and essential it was, and so that was what I did. I sat and I stayed."

GAIL CALDWELL | Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge | August 12 at 7 pm | 617.661.1515 or harvard.com | Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | August 17 at 7 pm | 617.566.6660 orbrooklinebooksmith.com

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