Marina Keegan had a full life ahead of her, a job at the New Yorker, and a Yale degree at her back, but five days after graduation, she died in a car accident. Afterwards, her last essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, went viral, and her family, friends, and teachers came together to put her essays and stories into book format. That book, titled The Opposite of Loneliness, was published in 2014. Finally, at the end of the penultimate semester of my Yale as I slave over stories and essays in the English major, I listened to the audiobook of the Opposite of Loneliness and I do not regret it for a minute.
On the surface, Marina Keegan and I have a lot in common, and the fact that I’m discovering this after her death freaks me out a little bit. Like her, I am an english major at Yale and we’ve studied with some of the same professors and sat in the same classrooms and written papers on the same texts. Like her, I am a student in Saybrook College. Like her, I enjoy writing and reading and like, Anne Fadiman pointed out in her introduction, I think we both write like 21-year-olds, and there is nothing wrong with that when you are a 21-year-old.
A lot of aspiring writers, including my peers at Yale, have this delusion of grandeur that leads them to write stories about characters and in a voice that is wholly foreign to them. Of course you can tell stories about people different from yourself, but you have to find some common ground with characters and voice to make your piece authentic. Marina Keegan does that. Her stories are about girlfriends mourning a boyfriend who maybe wasn’t even a boyfriend and women struggling with body issues and loneliness at all ages and jealousy in relationships and more. The essays touch on things college students actually know about: loneliness and consulting jobs and finding your purpose in life.
If you like good fiction and the New Yorker and college student struggles that are well written, this book is for you. It’s short-ish, it took just under six hours to listen to, but it was really well curated and enjoyable!