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The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
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Archive - Award Winners > The Opposite of Loneliness - May 2015

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message 1: by Savanes, Moderator (new)

Savanes | 2017 comments Mod
Nonfiction winner

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

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 International 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 unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, "The Opposite of Loneliness" went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

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. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina's essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates 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 make an impact on the world.

message 2: by Savanes, Moderator (last edited Apr 30, 2015 11:13AM) (new)

Savanes | 2017 comments Mod
Here are some questions I found on the publisher's website. I thought they were interesting so I decided to share them with you:

- What would you define as your own personal opposite of loneliness?

- In “The Opposite of Loneliness,” Keegan insists, “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over” (p. 3). After reading this piece, have you realized you want to reevaluate any- thing in your own life? Given her sense of possibility and hope, as well as the permission to fail, is there some goal or project you now feel empowered to pursue?

- As Fadiman notes, one of Marina’s strengths is that she writes in her own voice as a young person. What about her depiction of young love is particularly evocative? What does young love have that more mature love lacks, and what does mature love offer that is missing in young love?

- What wisdom beyond her years does Marina share?

- Though Keegan was vibrantly alive in person, her writ- ing often considers death and mortality. One of the adult characters in her play Utility Monster says, “I wanted to do something important . . . I wanted to contribute something that would be there when I wasn’t.” Once you know that Keegan died in a car accident just five days after she gradu- ated from college, what lines from her stories and essays strike you most powerfully?

- In her personal journal, Keegan wrote, “I hate that I feel I am running out of time. I must always remember that time is all there is and we are always running out of it.” At what points in this collection do you feel a similar sense of urgency? Is living with an appreciation of time’s swift passage ultimately empowering or limiting?

- The day she graduated from college, Keegan told her mother that she was especially proud of her Yale Daily News article “Even Artichokes Have Doubts,” which went on to be adapted for the New York Times and discussed on NPR. When The Opposite of Loneliness was first published in April 2014, columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote, “Keegan was right to prod us all to reflect on what we seek from life, to ask these questions, to recognize the importance of passions as well as paychecks—even if there are no easy answers.” As Keegan reminds other young people that “we can do something really cool to this world,” what points does she emphasize? What counterarguments might she have considered more specifically? Do you share her concern about where so many top young graduates take their first jobs? Do you worry that you need to compromise your own dreams for practical concerns? Why or why not?

- Keegan often mentions jealousy, either in romantic triangles such as those depicted in “Cold Pastoral” and “The Ingénue” or as she considers others achieving suc- cess (p. 205). Ironically, she even mentions “jealousies of those who get the chance to speak from the dead” (p. 207). How does this very human admission affect your attitude toward her work? What do her jealousy and the confessed objects of her jealousy reveal?

I didn't include all the questions but you can check them all there:

message 3: by Janina (last edited May 10, 2015 06:07PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Janina (sylarana) | 692 comments I think the early death by accident of this young girl is as all far too early deaths very tragic.

I cannot comprehend why this book was nominated let alone won in the non-fiction category. The majority of the book are fictional short stories written by a 20 year old girl for a college writing class .. and that is exactly what they are.
The few non-fiction pieces are flashlights into the life of a very privileged young girl whose life was laid out for her. The only thing remarkable about her life or this book is her tragic early death.

It is NOT a nonfiction book (for the most part) and it certainly isn't one worth reading. (Might be inspiring for high schools girls with rich parents .. )

message 4: by Lynn, Moderator (new)

Lynn | 4071 comments Mod
Yeah, I got the impression from reading the reviews that it was pretty much the tragic death rather than the quality of the book that has got this book such a high profile.

I didn't realise that the majority of the book wasn't non-fiction though. A little bizzare.

message 5: by Lea (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lea (leaspot) | 79 comments I agree with Janina; I wasn't very impressed with this one. I was intrigued by the title, but I didn't feel like the title fit with the rest of the book. In the 200 page book, the vast majority of the material is derivative and what isn't, in my opinion, could use a bit of refinement. I was disappointed. With such a glowing forward by Anne Fadiman, I really expected something quite different.

message 6: by Savanes, Moderator (new)

Savanes | 2017 comments Mod
Well for the moment this winner is a no-no with this group. That's what happens when people vote without reading books but just because of the storyline behind it. It also happens a lot with series I find.

Jennifer Ota I thought some of the stories were very interesting. I am confused at the end of The Ingenue. Could someone explain to me what happen? Did she get married in the end with Danny? Was she thinking of a memory?

Janina (sylarana) | 692 comments However anyone might feel about the quality of the writing, those stories are simply fictional and they make up 2/3 of the book (there is no way they would stand a chance in the fictional category either). This is supposed to be an award worthy non-fiction book! And, the few non-fiction pieces deal with how terrific life at Yale is, how difficult it is for all those poor Yale sophomores to stay true to themselves despite being flooded with internship offers by consulting firms or the relationship to her car. Some people may consider those interesting non-fiction topics, but to me non-fiction should be more than random thoughts.

The only reason this book was published was that she wrote an essay about how young they all were and died shortly after. The whole thing feels exploitative towards her (she seemed to have been very dedicated, spirited and perfectionistic .. would she have wanted these pieces published like that?).

Reija | 101 comments Oh, I'm not only one.. after reading introduction the whole felt pretty weird, such a praise and then only reason to publish the book was her death.

But after all that, I have liked pretty much what I read so far.

Jeanne I agree with everyone else and was disappointed with the writing. Judging by the introduction at the beginning, I was expecting to be blown away. Instead I came out meh. Her life may have been cut short before she reached her true potential. I was happy to hear her commitment to good writing. Definitely a better non-fiction writer.

Reija | 101 comments Finished it yesterday, I liked her fiction more even if some others work too. When her works had collected this way, there was quite much same ideas over and over again. But at least her wish, to be remembered after dead, was succesful.

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