The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (4 out of 5)

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Marina Keegan’s book of essays and short stories (both fiction and nonfiction) is a bittersweet affair. Let me explain for those who aren’t aware of the author’s story. Marina had just graduated from Yale University in 2012 and was on her way to a promising career as a writer when she passed away in a car accident. At the young age of 23, you feel she was so much older in the ways of the world from the seasoned vignettes spilling from this volume of work. Her last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness”, went viral after her death. We are fortunate that we got the chance to get to know Marina, if not personally, at least through her work. It can be argued that you know her, however, from the personal dashes she added to this canvas left behind. And what a seriously intelligent, funny, and lovely young lady she was.

Her fictional stories are all heartbreakers in some way or another. Mostly because although they are not based in fact, the way they read, you definitely question whether she based them on real people or happenings. Cold Pastoral, the most famous of the short stories, ripped my heart out and threw it in the oven with my spinach gluten-free quiche. I didn’t have the strength to read through it a second time, so I’m going to have to go through and read it at some future date. All of her short stories center around the younger generation and their trials and tribulations with the wickedness of the telltale heart. I enjoyed the fiction side a lot. I can see why Cold Pastoral got the lion’s share of publicity; it will, no question, make you relive the worst experience you’ve ever had with unrequited love. Somehow, Keegan manages to make you give a shit, cry, and then realize the closure and grief are the only way to truly move on. So, so, so true in real life, and she manages to make that come across in fiction. 

Keegan’s nonfiction section is equally compelling. You get a better idea at what made her make and break; what drove her, and what shaped her to be the young lady who authored this collection. In doing that, though, you find yourself becoming familiarized with Marina’s life and college times, and you grow to like and respect her vision and drive in pursuing a career in the printed word. There is no pretty language, no rainbow-colored sandboxes, and no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off. There is only honestly, brutal as it is in some of her stories. However, you realize that she grew up a lot while at Yale and that while still in the process of finding out who she is, that she really did figure out who she was. At least she had that before she left. Not a lot of people get that chance. I thought it would be rough going once I heard Marina’s story, but it made it all the more worth it at the end. As I said earlier, bittersweet because she was a highly talented author, as shown here, and because she is taken from us way too soon. You should give this book a chance and tell anyone you can to pick up a copy.

~ by generationgbooks on January 12, 2014.

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