Act I of LaFrance’s first book, Species Branding, ends with the line: “crippled on my last leg. where are our friends?” It is a question that led to Friendly + Fire (Talonbooks 2016), where LaFrance takes aim at friendship as such.
The Tarnak Farm Incident, where four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were killed by American Air Force pilot Harry Schmidt, is used as source material to navigate and build a discourse of friendship in the 21st century. From this case study, Friendly + Fire interrogates the male subjective experience of war and the gendered implications of camaraderie or “brotherhood” by employing a character named H.S. (his? Harry Schmidt?) on the cheap as a filter for engaging with and through real-life stories of friendly fire.
Friendly + Fire commingles receiving a “pink slip” from an employer with forced affect in the workplace. Work, of course, is another social site where friends are made and ultimately collapse outside the parameters of wage labour. Here is where friends can become comrades.
In Friendly + Fire the mental and physical conditions endured by fighter pilots (suppressed appetite, prescribed sedatives and amphetamines to regulate sleep and stress tolerance) parallel the semiotic and parasitic flows of online friends. The inaccuracy of a war target, of friendly fire, hovers and takes aim at the frivolities of gossip quasi far away from any war zone: “MILITARY LINGO SUBLIMATES SMACK TALK FROM HERE ON IN.”