The Best Friend: Emily Gould

Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Writer and author Emily Gould is not exactly hush-hush about her personal life. In fact, her unabashed frankness has become somewhat of a Gould trademark. In 2010, she authored a collection of brutally honest essays titled And the Heart Says Whatever (Free Press, 2010), in which she discussed both her real-life romantic disappointments and the professional misadventures that she encountered in her 20s in great detail. And, this year, she released Friendship (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), a Bechdel Test-approved novel on the platonic love between two best girlfriends.
Below, Gould opens up about the kind of relationship she ultimately values most.
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Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Exploring platonic love
“People usually write about platonic love between women and best friends when they are using it as a B plot where the A plot has to do with romance with men. It’s not like there are zero books that exist about best friends. But, I just wanted to push that to the forefront. I wanted to write a book where men would be in the background and would barely be in the story. I wanted to see what happens [to the story] when men go away.”
Going long-term…with your BFF
“[Sometimes, you get] to a point in your friendship when you struggle and really have to try to make it work — and sometimes it fails. It’s important to have friendships where you can talk about the same shit when you’re 80. It’s so different from a romantic relationship — there’s a different level of trust and intimacy that you can’t have with someone you are dating. If you are best friends with someone, you can’t fix something in your relationship by having sex with them. With a platonic relationship, you have to work on it.”
When your “art” gets too personal
“In Friendship, the characters aren’t [my best friend, writer] Ruth [Curry] and me. But, their friendship is like ours. I think Ruth really wishes I showed her the book while I was working on it, but I told her I wouldn’t have been able to be as free and it would’ve curtailed [my writing]. Our relationship is un-fuck-with-able. You can’t mess with it. But, if I’m going to write something about my soon-to-be-husband, Keith (who is also a writer), I can’t publish it myself. An editor has to take a look at it, and I think that’s a fair rule since I would need the same from him. There are two types of people: Those who are like, ‘Don’t put me in your work’ and those that are like ‘I’m in your work, I’m immortal.’”
Why I write about my own life
“I wanted to figure out the moments in my life that made me into the person I am. I suspected those moments were not going to be the obvious ones. Maybe it would be an ordinary day, but actually that day would have an amazing lasting effect. Like, the day my contact got stuck behind my eyelid. That was the moment that I knew my relationship [with my boyfriend at that time] was over.”
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Nothing is TMI
“I do a lot of sharing; I like it. It’s an important part of the kind of writer I am. I’m sharing this stuff because I care about the person who’s reading it. Some people are horrified about writing about their own experiences, but I guess that’s never been a thing for me. Obviously there are some consequences that are hard to ignore. Every time I write a book, someone gets really upset at me for totally understandable reasons. Then, I promise them [that I won’t write about them again]. Like, I promised my mom that I wouldn’t write about her anymore…but she probably doesn’t trust me now.”
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Topshop skirt and booties, Paula Mendoza cuff, Model's own top and ring.
Photographed by Ben Ritter; Styled by Sasha Kelly; Makeup by Ashleigh Ciucci; Hair by Adam Maclay.
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