The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
Published by Scribner
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon
An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.
Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude 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 twenty-two 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, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Marina Keegan was a 22-year-old graduate of Yale University, ready to begin a great job. She sadly died just five days after her graduation. Some of the people closest to her compiled some of her work and this book is the result – The Opposite of Loneliness.
Listen, I think I get why this book was published. I think it is really nice, that people would gather together Marina’s work and make some art out of it. It is clear that writing is what she wanted to do with her life, and I love that the people that knew her and loved her can have this collection on their shelves and in their homes.
I was excited to finally pick this one up from the library – I waited forever for my turn. Yes, yes I want to read essays written by a young female voice – this excites me! I had read about Marina’s untimely death and thought it would be interesting to see what someone with her sort of talent and such a bright future would have to say.
There is indeed some talent in Marina’s book. There are some thought-provoking pieces in both her non-fiction and fiction collections, particularly in the opening essay and in some of the work toward the end of the book. In my opinion, Marina’s non-fiction work holds greater weight than her fiction collection. I appreciated reading this book, but in a one-story-at-a-time way, rather than sitting down and plowing through it. I found myself reading so slowly, not because I wanted to ponder anything or because I wanted the book to last longer, but because that was just about all I wanted to read before moving onto something else. Regarding her work, what I appreciated most was the sense of honesty in her essays and her short stories, as if Marina were uninhibited about what she was writing-I liked that. Even so, only rarely did I feel a connection to her characters and I could not connect to some of the stories at all.
I think that the work in these pages is the work of someone very bright, someone very early in her career, someone still working to perfect her skill. It is entirely possible that in real life, Marina might have known this and might not have expected her work to be published in this way.
I just don’t know what else to say except that it is so sad that her life ended before she was able to explore the depths of her talent and really live her life. I’m not sure that this book was entirely necessary to celebrate this young woman’s accomplishments. I would recommend The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan to readers that enjoy non-fiction, particularly essays and short stories.
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