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Monday, April 7, 2014

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

This collection of fiction and non-fiction by a young woman struck down in her prime was a lovely testament to life and to love. This is Marina Keegan's The Opposite of Loneliness

Marina graduated just two short years ago from Yale, already on her way in life with a play accepted to the New York Fringe Festival and a job at The New Yorker. Her promising young life was cut short by a car accident five days after graduation. This collection of her work, both fiction and non-fiction, assembles the oeuvre of a talented young woman who had so much ahead of her.

I was very taken wit Marina's writing style in the fiction section. She has a beautiful young voice and owns who she is (or was) as a writer, and the pain and oblivious folly of youth comes out so clearly in her work. I was particularly taken by two stories; the first was "Baggage Claim," a fairly short story that took place in Scottsboro, Alabama. The beauty of a conversation between two people that holds so much weight and unspoken feeling was what I want to read more of. There is honesty in what isn't spoken, and for a writer to get this across to her readers is simply lovely.

The other story I loved was "Hail, Full of Grace," the tale of a woman who has come back for the holidays with her adopted infant and baggage to bear. The subtle feeling that was expressed through the realization of having to face your past was palpable. Marina seemed to understand (way beyond her years) the pain of the decisions that you may not regret on a daily basis but that come back to haunt you when you least expect them. This story was gut-punchingly subtle in its laying the soul of the past bare for all to see.

In the non-fiction section my absolute favorite story was "Stability in Motion," Marina's ode to her car that helped her become who she was. Her personification of her transportation was lovely and thoughtful, and it was worth an exploration of how we treat the inanimate objects that keep us moving forward everyday in life. We take for granted everything around us in the blessings of our first world existence--do we ever stop to be grateful for all that we have?

It's heartbreaking to think that we will never be able to watch Marina grow as a writer and to see her maximize her potential as a storyteller. However, let it be known how grateful I am that she was on this earth long enough to give us a taste of her talent, her voice, and her openness to the world. More than that though--I am thankful for her willingness to share.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right:

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