When I first discovered that Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness was a series of fiction and non-fiction short stories, I was keen as a bean to read it. Not knowing much else besides the genre of the book, I nestled into the couch to get started.
Within the first few pages I realised the book was posthumously published. Marina Keegan was killed in a car accident five days after she graduated from Yale when she was 22 years old. The short stories I was about to delve into were snapshots of a life taken far too soon. A sort of time capsule.
Keegan’s writing professor at Yale, Anne Fadiman, pens the introduction, describing Keegan’s determination to not only be a writer, but a great one at that. Anne Fadiman described Keegan as a “self-starting cornucopia who never fell victim to writer’s block, or needing the pressure of a good grade or impending deadline to write”.
One on hand, some of her short stories are pure brilliance. They allow you to feel as though you’re in someone else’s world, seeing things from another perspective. They are gritty and real; often without the happy ending we expect or crave. Her writing style was easy to read and relatable, perfect for a twenty something human. She made every character feel vulnerable, honest and raw. Keegan observed the world like a tourist, taking every human interaction or thing as if it was the first time she had seen it before, highlighting minute details as extremely important moments.
On the other hand, there were some stories within the book that I took no interest in. They weren’t relatable and felt unfinished. Maybe these were the stories a 22-year-old didn’t have enough experience to be writing, or if she did, maybe she hadn’t nailed the story just yet.
Keegan was a promising writer. Her CV boasted internships at the Paris Review and the New Yorker. She had written a number of plays, one selected for a major theatre festival. Her final essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness”, was viewed more than one million times.
I could review this book in great detail. But I think this is a book that every twenty something should read for themselves, to catch a glimpse of a talented writer whose life ended too soon.
“We can’t we MUST not lose this sense of possibility, because in the end, it’s all we have.” - Marina Keegan.
Dominique is a Novocastrian with a passion for writing, eating and patting dogs. When she's not working hard for the money in Marketing, she can be found hanging out with her two greyhounds, her girlfriend and most likely, drinking a beer. You can lurk her @domfoxx.