How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Made to Break

03/26/2014 4:00 AM |

Made to Break
By D. Foy
(Two Dollar Radio)

This brashly written debut concerns friends too old to still be friends, which is to say that it’s about partying: about youth and life, both destined to end even though the characters can’t see it or admit it, not even on the last page, not even after a death or with the hindsight of a future lived in seclusion and extinguished revelry. In bareknuckle prose, Brooklynite Foy tells the story of five not-that-young people, most of whom are old friends, now more like frenemies, on holiday in a Lake Tahoe cabin with both a horrible storm and a New Year approaching. At least one is recently out of the army—it’s the late 90s, post-Bosnia—and it’s like they’ve all brought a war home, considering their relationships with a contemptuous combativeness fueled by cases of booze and a few bags of junk food.

The one thing they don’t have is ice, which sends Dinky out with the narrator, Andrew Jackson. After their cubes-run ends in a car accident, AJ gets the injured Dinky back to their remote lodgings, but sheets of rain knock out the phone and make traveling impossible; while Dinky’s stranded in an upstairs bedroom, desperately needing medical attention, the rest of them have it out with themselves and each other, reliving their common experiences, arguing through the present, and trying to team up to get the hell out of there.

There are intimations of lives outside the friendship—one of them has gone corporate, others seem to be involved in the music industry—but none of that really matters. Foy focuses on insularity, how these people relate to each other, careers be damned, past the point at which they should be going through such self-destructive motions of adolescent carousal. But it’s a rut they can’t escape, their loneliness, bitterness and fear coming to a head during the rained-out getaway. They cling to past choices, behaviors and people, a lifetime of shared stories behind them (but not much in front of them), some of which are funny but also sad and mean. The desire to improve—“I wanted her to trust in the promise of the man I was trying to give her,” AJ says about the girl he’s trying to get with—proves impossible to realize, at least around these people. “I guess that’s the problem,” AJ says. “How much we need our memories, but hate ourselves for the needing and
having both?”