cover image Boy Friends

Boy Friends

Michael Pederson. Faber & Faber, $23.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-571-36005-5

Poet Pedersen (Oyster) braids a history of the male relationships in his life into a lyrical tribute to his close friend, artistic collaborator, and founding member of the Scottish indie band Frightened Rabbit, Scott Hutchinson, who died by suicide in 2018. Composed as a letter to Hutchinson—who goes unnamed in the book—Pedersen’s narration looks back at his working-class childhood in Edinburgh, university years, and short stint as a lawyer, while meditating on the friendships he formed and lost: “Each friendship was a love affair, yet one cut short and fractured—a vessel lost to a squall with a hull full of fish.” Yet none of these relationships would compare to the one he shared with Hutchinson, a six-year-long friendship that ended shortly after a trip they took together though the Scottish Highlands (Hutchinson took his life a week before the two were supposed to reunite). As Pedersen struggles to memorialize his friend’s death among the “beastly bite of grief,” he finds humor and gratitude in his memories, constructing from them a passionate ode to companionship: “It was like a combination of déjà vu, finding an old love letter, and being gifted a hand-knitted cardigan from a friend no-one knew could knit. It grew like vines—leafed, flowered, fruited.” Despite its plaintive origins, this brims with beauty and love. (Sept.)