Book Review: The Opposite Of Loneliness

The Opposite Of Loneliness:  Essays And Stories, by Marina Keegan


You should not judge a book by its cover, even when that book has an appealing cover featuring a photograph of the late author, a friendly-looking ginger young woman in a bright yellow blazer and a short floral skirt.  Why is that?  Well, if you pick up said book and decide to read it, you may find out that what is trumpeted as a voice for the Millennial generation cut off in its prime, five days after graduation from Yale before she had a chance to make her mark as a writer for the New Yorker ends up being a regrettable example of contemporary decadence and writing that is not nearly as good as it is said to be.  This book has a lot of hype, but in terms of actual quality, this book is not very good, and likely would never have been published if the author had not been well connected with elite circles or had died in such tragic circumstances, given that these writings are not particularly accomplished undergraduate writings [1].  The author may speak with the zeitgeist in these stories and essays, but that does not happen to make them worthwhile, sadly.

About two thirds of this 200 page book is made up of the author’s monotonously repetitive stories of mostly privileged youth without a sufficient moral or religious background involved in dysfunctional relationships involving casual sex and drug use and not a lot of sense.  The author’s voice is highly casual and if she writes often about the death of romantic partners or the struggle to deal with cheating partners (or, sometimes, being the cheating partner), she does not write particularly well or write anything that is worth reading, much less celebrating.  Her essays, though, if possible, are even worse.  The opening essay, which apparently went viral (although I never heard of it), is the title essay, in which the author bloviates on the absence of loneliness that she found in her college environment and her efforts at keeping that community feeling alive.  Her other essays include a great deal of leftist naval gazing that passes as deep thinking that makes the author an embodiment of contemporary fake depth.  One can see these works, many of which were written as assignments of one kind or another, as evidence in why college is such a waste of time and money for so many people.

Although this book was not enjoyable and even though a short read still time I wish I would have had back, it is not as if there is nothing whatsoever that is praiseworthy about this book.  The author can be praised for writing in her own voice rather than attempting to write in the voice of someone with more life experience and more sense than she possessed.  If the author’s voice is not a good voice or a worthwhile voice, I can reasonably believe it is her voice at least.  This book reeks with the propaganda that passes for contemporary learning and the moral corruption that passes for creativity and originality.  The author would likely have been one of those young people one encounters with strong opinions but little worthwhile of genuine knowledge or a firm moral worldview to base those strong opinions on.  Wherever you encounter this book, whether in a bookstore or library, you can take the author’s advice that “there is always some better thing” than this book to waste your time on.  That may be the only piece of advice this author or her surrogates attempts to pass on that is worth taking to heart.

[1] This author, for example, has some comparable samples:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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