Truth and Beauty: A Friendship
Truth and Beauty is lifted above most memoirs by Ann Patchett’s unselfishness; she is writing a book that tells her own story, but frequently steps aside to offer the full spotlight to her friend, the magical, difficult Lucy Grealy, author of ‘Autobiography of a Face.’ Lucy Grealy, who died at thirty-nine, had a brief, vivid and shimmering life in contrast to Patchett’s longer, richer and more muted one.
Truth and Beauty is an examination of what it really means to love, comfort and envy your friends as you grow up together, your fortunes change and you find yourself either betraying them or being betrayed by them as you stumble into adulthood; it’s about the unenviable job of being the one who really does live each moment as if it’s their last, and the one whose equally grim job it is not to.
When the memoir came out, there was some controversy; Grealy’s family questioned whether the book really needed to be written at all. I’d say it did, not only because there are comparatively few good works of art devoted to real friendship between women, or because it’s a good companion piece to ‘Autobiography of a Face,’ but because it raises some very important questions about what life is really for and how it should be lived. Patchett isn’t afraid of describing the times when she got things terribly wrong with Lucy or wasn’t there for her, as well as the little gestures of love she made during their friendship. Rather than a grand celebration of two fairly successful writers’ lives, it’s these gestures - and the very human failures- that stay with you.