It is not often, indeed I don’t think that it has ever happened, that a book has me choking back the tears and forcibly swallowing the lump that has formed in my throat back down. But then The Opposite of Loneliness is no ordinary book.
In its complete form the book is called The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories. However, the author, Marina Keegan, cannot be held responsible for the onset of my emotional spiral. Marina Keegan is dead. The introduction was provided by her college professor at Yale from where Keegan graduated in 2012. Five days after she graduated she was killed in a car accident.
Entering this book I tried not to let the emotional impact of the writer’s death colour my opinion of the stories. It is too easy to do; glorify the poor girl who didn’t live to see her novel published. Fortunately, the beauty, truth and outstanding quality of Keegan’s writing meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about that; a fact that makes Keegan’s death all the more poignant.
The collection of short stories is simply breathtaking. The fact that someone so young, who hadn’t really lived, managed to find such an individual voice is beyond impressive. The stories are entertaining, sharp and beautifully written.
Keegan’s collection of essays covers a wide range of topics from the beaching of whales to the uncertainty of adulthood. Equally as impressive as her short stories her essays are filled with passion and fire, her words jump off the page and hit you with the sheer honesty of them. In the titular essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, the final essay that Keegan had produced for Yale Daily News, she told her fellow classmates that they were “so young”. She repeated the sentiment, trying to make her classmates realise that they had time to make or do things that they were passionate about. In her short time on this plain Keegan managed to leave her mark.
This book blew me away and I am genuinely saddened that the world of literature lost a promising writer before she truly had chance to shine.
The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan is available now.