The Opposite of Loneliness is a posthumous collection of short stories and essays written by a talented 22-year-old woman who was ahead of her generation named Marina Keegan. She was tragically killed only five days after her graduation from Yale ending what would have been a life of brilliance beginning with her job as an editorial assistant that she lined up at The New Yorker.
The book’s title comes from one of her essays that was posted online which went viral after news of her death went public. Seeing the outpour of grief, but also the admiration by so many for this young literary talent, her parents, friends and professor collected her works of writing and published it as a book.
The short stories span everything from young relationships, career aspirations, political events including the Gulf war, while the essays range from portraits of real people, such as an elderly exterminator discussing his life and how people treat him; a story about Keegan’s personal struggle with Celiac disease and how she came to appreciate the efforts to feed her by her overprotective mother only after leaving home for college; and my personal favourite: an insightful essay on her experience of try to save great whales beached on shore from death.
The whale essay contemplates the motivations as a society behind our actions in animal activism and our occasional ability to ignore the plight of fellow humanity. The book as a collection literally documents the mindset and possibility of this young woman evoking awe, grief and and respect for Keegan and her family. You get insight into the mind of this 22-year-old and the possibility and passion of a young generation that stands at the adult world on the eve of full integration into it ahead of them.
Regardless of age, anyone with an appreciation of the power of the web (due to the viral nature of the title essay) and a deep appreciation for strong writing will enjoy The Opposite of Loneliness. Plus, this work of art is perfect to place by your bedside to read before bed as each essay or story ranges from thirty to 40 pages long so you can leisurely peruse the pages.
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