Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Review: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

Author: Marina Keegan
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 224
Format: E-book
Published: April, 2014
Price: $8.68 -> Rp116.355 (Amazon)
Rating: 4½ / 5 stars

Date started: June 17, 2016 - Date finished: June 21, 2016

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

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.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her deeply moving last essay for The Yale Daily News, "The Opposite of Loneliness," went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story "Cold Pastoral" was published by just months after her death.

The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories, which, like The Last Lecture, articulate the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be, and how we can harness our talents to impact the world.

You know a book is good when you actually took time to read its introduction and its dedication page. I mean I always skipped those parts but I don't know why, I actually read them in this book. The introduction of this book was given by Marina's lecturer in Yale, I think she's the one who was closest to Marina in class. Now that I think of it, I think I read it because it was honest and heartfelt, and I think it touched me in a way. The dedication page was the same, written by Marina's parents, and showcased all the people who close to Marina with an additional little snippet of how Marina's essays and stories were collected and eventually made into a book.

This book is a collection of essays and stories written by Marina. I don't know the span of time where she wrote these but I would like to assume it was during her time in Yale. We start the book of with one of her essays called "The Opposite of Loneliness", which is the title of the book. Ugh, how I loved this essay so much. It was very deep and very contemplative for me. After that essay, the next parts are her fiction works or short stories and her essays are after the fiction part.
“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.”
People who have read this book say that the non-fiction pieces were better than the fiction ones and I agree to that. Her essays were a lot better than her short stories simply because of the fact I liked more of her essays than her short stories in terms of numbers, but it doesn't mean that her short stories were bad. Of course in this kind of book it's always kind of a hit and miss, you might like some, you might like all or you might like none. That's just the way it is.

I'll start off with the fictions. The short stories that were my favorite of hers are "Cold Pastoral", "Winter Break", "Reading Aloud", "The Emerald City", "Hail, Full of Grace" and "Challenger Deep". A lot right? But my favorite would hands down be "Reading Aloud" and then "The Emerald City" would be a close second because it was written entirely in an email correspondence format. I think in terms of interpreting the meaning behind each of these stories, people would have different opinions and would be a great topic of discussion. My opinion could be different from yours but what I can gather from reading her fictions is that the power of Marina's writing is in creating characters. To me, the characters from most if not all of her stories have something mentally wrong about them but these characters just don't know it and it's really fascinating to read about.

Her essays were great, I kind of live for them. After reading her essays I kind of just slowly collecting a bunch of books that are essay collections and I am really excited to get into them. I'll name a few of my favorites: "The Opposite of Loneliness", "Why We Care About Whales", "I Kill for Money", "Against the Grain", "Even Artichoke Have Doubts" and "The Art of Observation". I know, a lot right? Kind of justifies how I really liked this book. My most favorite would be a tie between "The Opposite of Loneliness" and "Even Artichoke Have Doubts" and then "The Art of Observation" would be in second place. Both my most favorite essays I like because they are (again) very contemplative if you are like me, a college student who is about to graduate (hopefully sooner rather than later). And the second place essay I like because to me it is kind of an opinion about narcissism.
“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating from college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”
It was a really wonderful experience reading this book and I must say that Marina Keegan is indeed taken from us too soon because I feel like she could have contributed something more to the literary society, but alas this book is the only thing we have of her therefore we must cherish this book and treasure it and also read the heck out of it because it is brilliant.

That's all for now!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Was reading this book like 3 months ago and stopped reading it, mainly because I didn't take my time to really 'dig' it. Thanks for the review, I might as well read it again :)


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