Title: The Opposite of Loneliness
Author: Marina King
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2014
Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated 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 22 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 articulates the universal struggle we all face as we work out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.
If there’s anything you take away from reading Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness, it’s that life is short, and although we don’t know where our lives will end up, we can do what we love and make the most of what we’ve got. We never know how much time we have here on this Earth and as Marina points out, it may feel like we have infinite time. But what’s important is to try to discover who we are and to find out what are passions are. What’s the point of living a life with a job you don’t enjoy and nothing that drives you to succeed? This collection shows the work of an aspiring writer whose career never came to full fruition in her lifetime. Her story was cut tragically short.
I’ve read quite a few reviews and people tend to be very harsh on these stories and essays. I think one thing to keep in mind, as Anne Fadiman points out in the introduction, this book is a collection of essays and fiction gathered and published posthumously after the authors tragic and untimely death. Perhaps it was Marina’s intention that these pieces never see the light of day. Or maybe she still intended to work them to prepare them to submit to a publisher. But as Ann points out, Marina wouldn’t have intended them to be published as they were. Through the hard work of Marina’s family, friends, and teachers, these pieces were collected together to show us just a bit of Marina’s life and spirit. In such a short work, it gives us an incredible look into the life of this inspiring young woman. Sometimes she too felt dejected with this world. Sometimes she didn’t know what the point was or what inspired her. Despite this, she was driven to pursue her passions and to life every day to the fullest. It’s impossible to critique her work as is, because we’ll never know how she intended these works to read. We don’t know whether or not they’re finished. So try not to judge so harshly, and try to find the same inspiration that I did in these refreshing pages.