The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Publisher: Scribner (April 8, 2014) ISBN: 978-1476753614
Publisher: Scribner              April 8, 2014                         ISBN: 978-1476753614

MY RATING:

fivestar

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

– Marina Keegan (1989-2012)

The Opposite of Loneliness is a 200 page collection of short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by Marina Keegan, a brilliant twenty-two-year-old writer who died tragically in a car accident five days after graduating from Yale. Though Marina’s heartbreaking death undeniably casts a shadow over the book, her humor, creativity, and insightfulness infuse her stories with stimulating energy. Her most memorable tales include “Cold Pastoral,” in which a young woman in college must navigate the tragic death of a “not-quite-boyfriend;” a short and poignant poem that begins: “So what I’m trying to say is you should text me back,” and “Even Artichokes Have Doubts,” an essay in which Marina discusses the shocking statistic that 25% of Yale graduates dutifully march on to work for consulting firms after graduation.

The consulting firm machine
I too fear the consulting firm machine

Marina’s creative plots invite readers to reflect on the human condition within the context of relationships, including romantic, parent/child, human/technology, and even car/driver. She is readable, she is wise, she is witty, she is someone with whom I want to drink coffee and discuss politics. Remarkably, she combines a spirit of youthful progressivism with the wisdom of a seasoned college professor.

As a college student and an English literature major, I spend a lot of time reading things from distant eras filled with unfamiliar landscapes, outfits, speech patterns, and histories. This forces me to spend an unfortunate amount of time whipping out my iPhone to Wikipedia words, peoples and places, attempting to connect the dots and make the story more accessible. (Then I inevitably end up texting my roommate or ordering books on Amazon, and two hours later I realize that I’ll have to stay up until 4am if I want to finish Beowulf.) One of my favorite things about The Opposite of Loneliness was that it rendered google unnecessary. Those born in the late eighties and nineties will find it effortless to engage with the topics, phrases, and references Marina utilizes. She mentions “The Dark Knight,” group iMessages, and the confusingly noncommittal dating culture in college, to name a few.

This book is perfect for:

  • College students, late teens and twenty-somethings
  • Progressives, liberals, radicals
  • Thinkers, readers, careful observers of people
  • Minds that thrive on navigating gray areas, doubting, and questioning
Marina drove around the Northeast with some version of this sticker on her 1990 Toyota Camry
Marina drove around the Northeast with some version of this sticker on her 1990 Toyota Camry

The way I feel about Marina Keegan the author, her plots, and her beautiful prose is perfectly captured in the following quote from the beginning of her book:

“And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.”

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