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29Jun

Top 10 stories of male friendship

Writers from Alexandre Dumas to Jack Kerouac and Colson Whitehead have written fiction worth bonding with about these sometimes uneasy alliances

Male friendship, the way it works, the way people think about it, is going through a generational shift. To feel the change you just have to watch old movies. Last week, I made my kids sit through Diner, which I always thought of as one of my favourite films. It’s about a bunch of twentysomething guys in Baltimore in 1959, struggling to take the next step into adulthood. They argue about football and sandwiches, about Presley and Sinatra … but I’d forgotten how much they talk about sex, too. One of them bets he can “ball” a girl on a second date, another tells stories about the first time he “copped a feel”. Part of the point, of course, is that all this sexism is getting in the way of their lives. They don’t really know what to talk about with women, but the movie is also clearly nostalgic for their late-night bull sessions in the diner. All of which makes male friendship, and the way it mixes guilt and innocence, an interesting thing to write about.

One of the weirdest weekends of my life was when I flew out to Barcelona to interview LeBron James. After waiting around for two days, I was finally ushered into the large hotel room where he was doing media. Our interview, it turned out, was going to have an audience – which included not just agents, publicists and Nike reps but some of LeBron’s old high school teammates who now formed part of his entourage. I wondered what it was like to be one of the guys whose whole life had been shaped by someone he happened to play basketball with 10 years before.

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