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Posted April 8, 2009
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Best Friends Could Be Better
"Best Friends" by Thomas Berger is about two grown men, Roy and Sam, who have been friends since childhood. As adults, it seems like they fight to keep a connection despite no longer having anything in common. Roy is very handsome, a playboy, came into an inheritance, and owns a used luxury car dealership purely out of his sheer joy for high-end cars. Sam is overweight, married, not working, spend-happy, and always looking for a handout from Roy. Unfortunately, Berger never gives us much reason to care about the men's friendship and this is where the author somewhat fails. We're just supposed to assume that the two are still good friends because they were once good friends as children, but we're never really shown anything that would cement this friendship in our minds.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The first three-quarters of the novel are meant to be the "set-up." We're supposed to get to know the characters and understand how their personalities mesh together. Again, Berger failed to deliver. Sam and Kristin remained two-dimensional while Roy became slightly more two-dimensional. I was still waiting for three-dimensional portraits of all three characters.
The "shocker" and conflict of the novel comes when -- about three-fourths through -- Roy sleeps with Sam's wife, Kristin, and he feels love for the very first time. No longer are women just playthings to him; now his heart is involved and he doesn't know how to react. Finally, albeit too late in the game, we start to delve deeper into the characters' personalities, only to be disappointed again by Kristin and Sam. Their actions and reactions to this development don't mesh with their "established" two-dimensional personalities and don't elevate them to three-dimensional status just because we've learned something new about each.
I think the novel and storyline has potential, but the characters really need more fleshing out. As for Berger's writing, it's average, dwelling too much on unimportant details (the various car models that Roy sells) and skips the all-important dialogue which shows us more about each character and creates some tension.