The "friction" of the title--one letter away from "fiction"--is what's generated when reality and the imagination begin to rub against one another, and Eloy Urroz always makes sure that these two worlds are brought into uncomfortable proximity. This playful novel, told in the second person, is the story of an escalating series of comic events at a university, touched off when Matilde, "your" young wife, becomes determined to unravel the mystery surrounding the disappear- ance of a renowned politician. While she's conducting a series of interviews with the vanished man's lecherous son, a professor is watching, dazed, as his second marriage and academic career both collapse around him . . . and an army of fictional and historical characters begin to materialize in a certain imaginary Baja California town.