The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories (Paperback)
This book made me feel brazen enough to mark it up in pen – underlining memorable phrases, starring interesting sentence structure, and more. A professor of Keegan’s, who stopped by the Concord Bookshop this past winter, told me Keegan would have been thrilled to hear I scribbled in someone else’s margins. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of essays and short stories titled after Keegan’s Yale graduation speech. The one she gave days before tragically dying in a car crash, prompting her family and friends to put this beautiful book out into the world. The pages are full of hope and triumph – a woman mastering the craft of writing. I recommend this to anyone looking for something touching, recent grads, and aspiring writers alike.— Brynn
The instant New York Times bestseller and publishing phenomenon: Marina Keegan’s posthumous collection of award-winning essays and stories “sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
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 Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at The New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.
Marina left behind a rich, deeply expansive trove of writing that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story “Cold Pastoral” was published on NewYorker.com. Her essay “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” was excerpted in the Financial Times, and her book was the focus of a Nicholas Kristof column in The New York Times. Millions of her contemporaries have responded to her work on social media.
As Marina wrote: “We can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” The Opposite of Loneliness is an unforgettable collection of Marina’s essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to impact the world. “How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, Keegan could take a clever idea...and make it something beautiful” (People).
About the Author
Marina Keegan (1989-2012) was an award-winning author, journalist, playwright, poet, actress, and activist. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times; her fiction has been published on NewYorker.com, and read on NPR’s Selected Shorts; her musical, Independents, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Marina’s final essay for The Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” became an instant global sensation, viewed by more than 1.4 million people from 98 countries. For more information, please visit TheOppositeofLoneliness.com.
“In her brief life Marina Keegan managed to achieve a precocious literary mastery. Her wry, wise, lyrical voice is unforgettable, and her vital, exuberant spirit reminds us powerfully to seize the day. Though every sentence throbs with what might have been, this remarkable collection is ultimately joyful and inspiring, because it represents the wonder that she was.”
— J.R. Moehringer, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Tender Bar
"I will never cease mourning the loss of my beloved former student Marina Keegan. This book gives partial evidence of the extraordinary promise that departed with her. Throughout she manifests authentic dramatic invention and narrative skill. Beyond all those, she makes a vital appeal to everyone in her generation not to waste their gifts in mere professionalism but instead to invest their youthful pride and exuberance both in self-development and in the improvement of our tormented society.”
— Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English, Yale University
"Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience, which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful. When she read her work aloud around our seminar table, it would make us snort with laughter, and then it would turn on a dime and break our hearts."
— Anne Fadiman, Yale University Professor of English and Francis Writer in Residence and author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and Ex Libris
"Illuminates the optimism and neurosis felt by new grads everywhere. . .Like every millenial who's seen irony elevated to an art form, Keegan brings self-awareness to the collective insecurity of her peers even as she captures it with a precision that only comes from someone who feels it too. How unfortunate that she will never know the value readers will find in her work."
— Publishers Weekly
"Funny, poignant, tender, and fiercely alive, 'The Opposite of Loneliness' contains the keen observations of a short lifetime—and the wisdom of a much longer one."
— Jennifer DuBois, author of Cartwheel and A Partial History of Lost Causes
“The writing Marina Keegan left behind offers a tantalizing taste of a literary voice still in development, yet already imbued with unusual insight, nuance, humor, and sensitivity.”
— Deborah Treisman, Fiction Editor, "The New Yorker"
“Two years after a young writer’s death, her words soar. . . . The Opposite of Loneliness...sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth. The prose, polished but thoroughly unselfconscious, is heartbreaking evidence of what could have been.”
— O Magazine
"A bittersweet, what-might-have-been book filled with youthful optimism, energy, honesty, and beyond-her-years wisdom."
— Yale Alumni Magazine
"The Opposite of Loneliness captures in both fiction and nonfiction [Keegan's] adventures in love and lust, the weird bliss of being stoned, and, as she writes, what it’s like to see 'everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again.'"
"Remarkable... a compelling literary voice... the appeal of this collection is its improvisational quality, its feeling of being unfinished but always questioning."
— Chicago Tribune
"How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, [Keegan] could take a clever idea...and make it something beautiful."
— People Magazine
"A triumph...Keegan was right to prod us all to reflect on what we seek from life."
— Nicholas Kristof, "The New York Times"
"The Opposite of Loneliness does [Keegan's] talent and memory justice, both as a picture of a generation entering adulthood and as a highly personal portrait of a gifted young woman."
— Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
“What a gift Keegan has left behind. Not only in her written words...but also in her legacy of social activism and fierce belief in leading a life of purpose, not privilege.
— Joseph P. Kahn, Boston Globe
“Keegan’s fiction… is built around the kind of empathetic extrapolation that makes for all the best realism… Keegan would have been—would have continued to be—a star. She would have been famous, not quietly or vaguely, but really, really famous.”
— The New Republic
“[Keegan ] was one of the most present, incisive, and hopeful writers.… That’s the gift and the pain of her book. How incredible, how lucky, that we get to read her words, that people who never knew her or her work can find it for themselves, that she was in some way given the chance to speak to the world the way she wanted.”
“A glimpse of a young woman who is growing as a writer and a person, someone who’s thinking deeply about love and the world around her and the scale of the universe….I have no doubt she would have been great.”
“In the little time [Keegan] graced the world she created a life’s work many writers could only dream of achieving in decades.”
“This posthumous collection of essays and short stories is beautiful and brilliant, young but not childish—just like the author was. Every essay is a gem you want to pick up and put in your pocket, taking it out from time to time to see how it looks in different lights—the lights of promise and potential, yearning and memory. The Opposite of Loneliness will make people cry and hope.”
— Rewire Me
“The loveliest piece of writing I’ve ever seen from someone so young… Her voice is steady and often very funny, her senses of character and pace are frighteningly good, and the flow of her prose is easy to get carried away by. She wasn't just college-talented; she was talented, period.”
— Kevin Roose, New York Magazine
“A new voice of her generation.”
— The Hartford Courant
"Wonderful... Marina Keegan did that thing we all want to do as writers: say what everyone else is thinking, but better."
— The Huffington Post
"Full of uncanny wisdom...Marina would not want to be remembered because she was dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good. No worries there, Marina. You left us aching for more."
— Detroit News
"A talented voice, silenced too soon, endures...throughout there are reminders of the talent of this forever-22-year-old."
— The Improper Bostonian