The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan, published April 2015 by Simon and Schuster.
Read: August 2016
Genre: Non-Fiction/Fiction/Short Stories/Essays
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.
As her family, friends and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’, went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord. Even though she was just 22 when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle we all face as we work out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.
I’m eternally grateful to Book Blogging and BookTube when I stumble upon fantastic reads like this because they’ve been talked about in the community. I was initially drawn to this book because of the title – call me a millennial, but it SPOKE to me. When I discovered that the author was only 22, and that she tragically died just 5 days after graduating, I had to know what was so special about her writing. Not only that, but a part of me felt I almost had to pay my respects to her in some way by acknowledging her work.
This book presents a selection of Marina’s essays, as well as some fictional short stories. I think I sway more towards enjoying her non-fiction, but overall I felt this was a very insightful, often raw, and well written collection of work. The girl had talent, and lots of it. I think she would have had a great career ahead of her. It’s impossible to read this book without a lingering sense of sadness throughout – to hear Marina’s distinct voice in her work, and know that there will never be any more of it, that we will never see her writing progress – it was both depressing, and yet at times oddly uplifting. Her life being cut short is a stark reminder to us all that tomorrow is not guaranteed.
I’ve been hugely shocked by the number of negative reviews I’ve read. Many of them smack of jealously to be honest, but I wonder if some of them are simply due to a generation-gap? Marina writes with a certain honesty, and manages to capture, for me, the feelings of a 20-something in today’s world. It can be a confusing, frightening, and tiresome world, as much as it can be overwhelming, fun, an frivolous. Interestingly, Marina doesn’t write how I’d imagined her to – based on her image on the cover, and the college she attended, I had a stereotypical idea of how she would write, and what she would write about. It was very interesting to me that she was much more gritty than I expected her to be.
Not forgetting that Marina was in the early stages of her writing career, I’ve forgiven her collection for being a little repetitive, and mostly dark, in theme. She didn’t really get the chance to flesh out her ideas and abilities, but it’s clear that these stories are musings about life and relationships, and rarely feature sunshine endings. With all of that being said, it’s a collection of work I will keep on my shelves and dip into again in the future. Whether or not it will resonate as much with older-me is yet to be seen…
Have you read The Opposite of Loneliness? Let me know in the comments!