The Opposite Of Loneliness

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The Opposite Of Loneliness
By Marina Keegan
Simon & Schuster – £12.99

There’s absolutely no denying the fact that the American authoress Marina Keegan could really write; and to a certain degree, write with a pronounced precision that was both inventive and idiosyncratic. But I cannot help but wonder that had she not died in a car crash at the mere tender age of just twenty-three, would she have made as equally as big a noise?

Death after all, works wonders for one’s career – regardless of age or where they’re actually at. Perhaps regardless of most things. But without wanting to come on like a cynical tactician of no particular critical abode, The Opposite Of Loneliness really isn’t all it’s made out to be. Keegan may well have left behind a so-called ”rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty and possibility of her generation,” but personally, I found most of the writing a little too diaphanous and dare I say it, class-centric and money-up for its own good.

In all honesty, I came to this book with an open mind.

I wanted to be touched, but unceremoniously completed it with a feeling of having been duped. There’s far too much talk of Yale, sickly, sticky myopic text messaging and all to considered sex. So much so, that I just couldn’t warm to the writing – no matter how hard I tried or wanted to.

In the fourth short story of the fiction section, ‘The Ingenue’ for instance, Keegan writes: Too tired and confused the night before, Danny and I had had sex that morning – emerging last into the kitchen, secretly superior. I ordered another to-go lobster on the way to the theatre and it came with its claws flopping over the sides of a fast food container, which I liked […]. During intermission I went outside to sit in the car because I didn’t feel like talking to the lobby and its circles. Part of me probably knew it was coming because as soon as I shut the door, I started crying. I let my head hang forward and press against the steering wheel but after a few sobs I sat up and stopped. I texted five or six friends from the city […]. My sister and my friend Tara texted me back and I responded to both immediately […]. ”It’s so fun,” he’d say. ”there’s this group of local alcoholics who are too freaking funny. But they have these bands that come and everyone just sort of goes with it, you know? None of that too-cool bullshit.” ”Yeah,” I’d say, in bed with my salad. ”It sounds amazing, you’ll have to take me when I come up in August.” ”For sure,” he’d reply. I can’t wait.” We got dinner together between shows and had sex again on these inland dunes…”

”Emerging last into the kitchen, secretly superior” following sex? ”Another to-go lobster?” ”It’s so fun?” It’s so annoying more like.

Really, who fucking cares?
And who on earth sits in bed eating a salad?

Had Marina Keegan matured and experienced some of life’s realistic knocks, I dare say there’d have been more resonance, more truth and more grit in her story telling. As is, there’s no denying she could write, but it’s what she wrote, that I still find particularly irksome and displeasing.

Spoilt brat writing for a (predominantly American) spoilt brat readership.

David Marx

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