There are no murders, no kidnappings, no killer robots, no evil wizards, no spies, no ghastly villains, no wars and not a single shot fired in Sally Rooney’s 2017 debut novel. In fact, the title pretty much describes what this book is about: Conversations with Friends.
And yet this is a captivating page-turner of a book. The kind where, when you finally look up from the pages, you realize it’s an hour later and your coffee is cold. It’s that good.
So how does she do it? How does she take conversations with friends and make them so engaging?
She does what all those other authors do when they write about murders and kidnappings and killer robots, etc. She creates conflict. As I say, this is not the car chase, shoot em up, high octane kind of conflict, but it is conflict.
Note that I’m referring to conflict in the literary sense, where characters face challenges and opposition as they try to achieve their goals – as they do in every story. This isn’t necessarily the dictionary definition of conflict, which covers battles, wars and serious disagreements, though it could be that as well. If you find the idea of conflict too harsh, you can think of it as drama.
Rooney creates this conflict in two main ways: [Read more…]