Writing Is Seduction

Stephen King - Writing Is SeductionIt is possible to overuse the well-turned fragment, but frags can also work beautifully to streamline narration, create tension as well as to vary the prose-line. A series of grammatically proper sentences can stiffen that line, make it less pliable. Purists hate to hear that and will deny it to their dying breath, but it’s true. Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. The single-sentence paragraph more closely resembles talk than writing, and that’s good. Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction. If not so, why do so many couples who start the evening at dinner wind up in bed?

—Stephen King
On Writing

My Best Friend and the Art of Love

My Best FriendMy Best Friend, or Mon Meilleur Ami, is one of my favorite films. But I haven’t watched it in a while. And after watching it this afternoon, I was shocked see that I had never written about it. I’ve always thought it a flawed film, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. I do wonder why we Americans can’t seem to make films like this. The American filmmakers who are capable of making such films are too cynical. And I’m not saying that I’m above that. All my fiction is cynical — at least on the surface. (I think about it like M&Ms: a hard cynical shell and a gooey middle.

My Best Friend is about a bet. François (Daniel Auteuil) is a very successful art dealer. His partner, Catherine (Julie Gayet — yes, her) bets him that he has no best friend. Indeed, all his business associates confirm that he has no friends. To give you some idea, the film starts in a church. He is doing business on his cell phone. He says, “Sorry, I have to call you back. My client just got here.” And we see six men carrying a coffin in. He’s there so that he can talk to the widow about a deal they were in the middle of.

Still, François isn’t crude or coarse; he just seems clueless; he never learned what it was to be a friend. So François has a week to present his best friend. And in the process, he spends a great deal of time with a taxi driver, Bruno (Dany Boon). And although it takes a long time for him to realize it, François does have a best friend: Bruno. But he’s still clueless and focused on the bet. This leads to Bruno being devastated, when François stages a demonstration for his colleagues of what a great friend Bruno is. He succeeds: everyone agrees that Bruno is a great friend, but that François is a total jerk.

My Best Friend and Love

The core of My Best Friend is laid out late when Catherine tells François, “You asked about the acid test [of friendship]. There isn’t one. I forget who said, ‘There’s no love, only tests of love.’ The the exact opposite is true. There’s no test. There’s only love.” Catherine admits that her part in the bet was based upon her anger at not being allowed to be François’ friend. He’s just no good at it — or even knows what it means.

By the end of My Best Friend, François seems to have figured out the friendship thing and has many healthy relationships. It is just that none of them are with Bruno who is far too hurt by his betrayal. But, of course, they finally do get back together — acting more like best friends in grammar school than the grown men that they are. We are even left with the two of them accepting of their obvious lies. Because there’s no test. There’s only love.

You owe it to yourself to find and watch My Best Friend. It’s that rarest of things: a “chick flick” for guys. But one that gals will love too.