The Opposite of Lonliness - Marina Keegan

This book was recommended to me by a dear friend. She brought it up after we were talking about how rare it is to find a book that really speaks your language. We wandered around one of my favorite bookstores looking for it, it was hard to find because of its mix of fiction and non-fiction, short stories and essays. Would this be in the memoir section? Or Essays? Or both? 

That's the thing about this book, it's sort of uncategorical. The author, Marina Keegan, died tragically young at age 22. She had just graduated from Yale and was about to start writing in New York shortly after. The heartbreaking irony of all of this plays loudly throughout the book. With the opening and closing written by two of her professors, you get a small sense of Keegan, and then you see her clearly in all the pages in between; in her words. Her writing is her embodied, reincarnated if you will. She speaks so clearly to us twenty-somethings, in our pre/post graduate anxiety, trying to navigate this strange little thing called adulthood and the "real world." 


“I blame the Internet. Its inconsiderate inclusion of everything. Success is transparent and accessible, hanging down where it can tease but not touch us. We talk into these scratchy microphones and take extra photographs but I still feel like there are just SO MANY PEOPLE. Every day, 1,035.6 books are published; sixty-six million people update their status each morning. At night, aimlessly scrolling, I remind myself of elementary school murals. One person can make a difference! But the people asking me what I want to be when I grow up don't want me to make a poster anymore. They want me to fill out forms and hand them rectangular cards that say HELLO THIS IS WHAT I DO.” 

“Sometimes I think about what it would be like if there was actual peace. The whole planet would be super sustainable: windmills everywhere, solar paneled do-bops, clean streets. Before the world freezes and goes dark, it would be perfect. The generation flying its tiny cars would think itself special. Until one day, vaguely, quietly, the sun would flicker out and they'd realized that none of us are. Or that all of us are.” 

“At the Unitarian Universalist Christmas pageant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it didn't matter that Mary insisted on keeping her nails painted black or that Joseph had come out of the closet. On December 25 at seven and nine p.m., three wise women would follow the men down the aisle -- one wearing a kimono and another, African garb; instead of myrrh they would bring chicken soup, instead of frankincense they'd play lullabies. The shepherds had a line on protecting the environment and the innkeeper held a foreclosure sign. No one quite believed in God and no one quite didn't -- so they made it about the songs and the candles and the pressing together of bodies on lacquered wooden pews.” 

“When a young person dies, much of the tragedy lies in her promise: what she would have done.” 

“Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love with everything ... 
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.” 


I highly recommend this book! Her words are rhythmic and seamless and, as books should be, it was such a joy to read.