The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Pages: 231
Genre: Non-Fiction, Fiction, Short Stories
Read: February 2017
Rating: 7/10

Adjectives To Describe This Book: Heart breaking, raw, real

Read If You Are: Young and looking for someone to encompass your ‘modern’ feelings into one book, in need of good literature in the form of short stories and essays.

On 26 May 2012 Marina Keegan died in a car crash.

This isn’t part of the story of the book. This is real life.

Marina Keegan and her boyfriend were driving her to her father’s 55th birthday party on Cape Cod. Though he was neither speeding nor drinking, he fell asleep at the wheel. The boyfriend was unhurt; Keegan was killed.

To keep her legacy alive, her parents, friends and mentor helped piece together this book of short stories and essays that Keegan had written during her lifetime.

The introduction by Marina’s professor, friend and mentor – Anne Fadiman itself made me cry. Death is a terrible thing, but to lose someone with so much potential so early, feels like a loss for humanity.

The book is divided into two parts – her fictional writing and her non-fictional one. If I had to use on adjective to describe pretty much all the short stories it would be ‘heart breaking’. ‘Sad’ would be another. Why is there so much sadness?

The book was full of realness and displayed the raw power of words and emotions. It’s one of those books where you can’t help but highlight lines because the words speak to you, where you can’t help nodding because you’ve been that person, because you’ve thought those things, said those lines.

Had Marina Keegan been alive, she would have been around my age. I understand her words. I understand the emotion. It’s a book of my generation, for my generation.

But this isn’t a good book because it’s published posthumously; it is good because it is good. As Anne Fadiman said in her introduction –

“Marina wouldn’t want to be remembered because she’s dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good.”

And that’s just what this book is – good. Is it the most amazing book I’ve read? No. But did it speak to me? Yes, and that’s why I like it.

Favourite Quotes:

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can still change our minds. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical.’

“The best years of our life are not behind us. They are part of us and they’re set for repetition.”

“And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.”

“Success is transparent and accessible, hanging down where it can tease us but not touch us.”

“I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans. There’s less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting to involved.”

“The thing is, I like being liked.”

“But it became clear very quickly that I’d underestimated how much I liked him. Not him, perhaps, but the fact that I had someone on the other end of an invisible line. Someone to update and get updates from, to inform of a comic discovery, to imagine while dancing in a lonely basement, and to return to, finally, when the music stopped.”

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