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VIDEO + PODCAST: Gail Caldwell reads from Let’s Take the Long Way Home [MP3]

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Friendship is a tough thing to capture. Especially in words. But friendship is even harder to capture in time. It's an oft-lamented fact that we here in this world are confined to a linear plane. The fleeting nature of the present, the looming figure of the future, and the unattainable haze of the past characterize our mortal tenure. Everything gets older, and everything dies.

In her new book, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship (recently reviewed for the Phoenix by Amy Finch), author and Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Gail Caldwell manages to do the former, while facing the harsh realities of the latter.

Let's Take the Long Way Home tells the story of Caldwell's relationship with former Phoenix columnist and best-selling author Caroline Knapp.

Before succumbing to lung cancer in 2002, Knapp penned the "Out There" column for the Phoenix along with pieces on being a twin, her struggle with anorexia, and other deeply personal topics. She is perhaps most widely known for her 1996 bestseller, Drinking: A Love Story, in which she detailed her life as a functioning alcoholic.

READ: A selection of Caroline Knapp articles from the Phoenix's archives

In Let's Take the Long Way Home, Caldwell mourns for her friend, and paints a delicate portrait of grieving and remembrance. "I had very naively assumed that grief was sadness times 12. That it was just great sorrow," Caldwell said during a reading at the Harvard Book Store. But what Caldwell found after losing her best friend was a wholly unexpected physical anguish, a longing for the romanticized grief that is just "a lot of tears and missing somebody."

The crowd gathered at the Harvard Book Store, not all that far from Knapp's childhood home in Cambridge, consisted of many people who knew her personally. Caldwell read selected excerpts from Let's Take the Long Way Home and answered questions about Caroline, their dogs, and how writing this book played into coping with her death.

To hear the full reading and Q+A session, check out our podcast below. And to see Caldwell in person, she'll be speaking at Newtonville Books on Wednesday, September 29, at 7pm.

DOWNLOAD: Gail Caldwell reading from "Let's Take the Long Way Home" [MP3]

Recorded live at the Harvard Book Store, on August 12, 2010; if you enjoyed this listening to this talk, check out the Harvard Book Store's calendar of upcoming events. To subscribe to our podcast, paste this RSS feed into your podcatcher or feed-reader of choice, or bookmark http://thephoenix.com/podcast.
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