When I first read the story of Marina Keegan and how her collection of Essays and Stories in the form of ‘The Opposite of Loneliness” came together, I knew it was something I had to read.
I knew however with reading this book, I may be in my feelings and may even cry from reading it. You see the thing is, Marina graduated from Yale in 2012. She had the world in the palm of her hands–she had been published in the New York Times, interned at prestigious publications, and had already created a resume that would make many jealous including myself.
During her graduation, Marina spoke to her class through an essay referred to as the same title of the book saying essentially how they were all young and had their whole world in front of them, and that the community they created while at Yale was the opposite of being alone. Sadly however, while on Cloud 9 with a new sense of independence Marina passed away after her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel. She died instantly, and he walked away unharmed.
A terrible tragedy her passing was, and understandably so, her parents needed closure of some sort so they along with one of her professors Anne Fadiman put together a collection of essays Marina wrote and put them together in this book.
What these essays show is that if Marina were in fact alive, she may be one of the literary voices of our time. She wrote so well, and created pictures and stories that were almost so vivid and vibrant that you could see them happening. Some of the essays in the book were nonfiction and others fiction and for me, two stories stood out while reading the book.
The first story that stood out to me was the very first essay “Cold Pastoral.” The essay tells the story of a somewhat first love between a guy and a girl, where the guy passes away. Initially, I got a chilling feeling when reading the first page, but eventually I was able to actually absorb the essay. As the essay continues, you see the girl having another sense of heartbreak where I almost felt like crying for her. Without giving the story away too much, there’s a pretty sad love triangle that becomes exposed through a journal.
The second story that I love was in the non-fiction section “Against the Grain.” The story opens with a line that made me sad once again, “On my deathbed, I will instruct a nurse to bring me the following: a box of Oreos, a bag of Goldfish, a McDonalds hamburger, an assortment of Dunkin’ Donuts, a chicken pot pie, a Hot Pocket, a large pepperoni pizza, a French crepe, and an ice-cold beer. In my final moments, I will consume this food slowly and delicately as I fade to oblivion.” When you hear what her friends have to say about her, this essay really personifies the person who I think Marina was. She was funny, nonchalant, and witty. She also like her friend said, would speak about death in a way that it didn’t seem like such a sad or depressing thing. Some of the lines here were super quirky, but overall the essay made me laugh in it’s matter of fact tone.
Overall, when I posted that I was reading this book many asked if I would suggest this book and I can honestly say, yes. Marina was such a great writer. The stories are good and short but not so short that you’re left wondering what happened, but short and complete. It’s a quick read, but a great read. Also, the quotes from other writings from Marina that open each essay is a nice touch as well.
In closing, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book.
I want enough time to be in love with everything.
Purchase the “The Opposite of Loneliness” here.