The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

Hardcover | April 8, 2014

byMarina KeeganIntroduction byAnne Fadiman

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An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

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.

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The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

Hardcover | April 8, 2014
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$17.05 online $27.00 (save 36%)

From the Publisher

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title...

Anne Fadima is the editor of The American Scholar, Recipient of a National Magazine Award for Reporting, she has written for Civilization, Harper's, Life, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

other books by Marina Keegan


Paperback|Feb 23 2016

$5.99 online$18.00list price
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:April 8, 2014Publisher:ScribnerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:147675361X

ISBN - 13:9781476753614

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Customer Reviews of The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories


Rated 3 out of 5 by from little bit weird it was hard to understand but it was very interesting
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from take it for what it is! only about halfway through, but so far, I'm loving it! I know some other readers pointed out that the book reads like a university student's writing, but that's exactly what it is, and I think that might be part of why I like it so much.
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nonsense! This book was full of complete nonsense, especially the fictional stories. I think people are failing to see this book for what it really is - a load of pretentious, overly descriptive yet meaningless short stories - due to the tragic circumstances of the author's death
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautifully written! Keegan's writing in itself is a work of art. I could have done without some of the essays, but on the whole it was a lovely, well written book. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Satisfactory An interesting read. I really thought the short stories were well written, and the non-fiction essays were thought provoking. Not the best I've ever read. As another reviewer stated, I would mostly recommend this to people in their early 20's.
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really interesting, different style of short stories This book was really interesting to read. I like Marina's style of writing and how well she describes every detail. The Opposite of Loneliness opens your mind to Marina's world and the characters she loved.
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Oddly beautiful This book was, in its own way, inspiring. I loved the snippets of her writing, but I was truly more interested in her own life and story.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Interesting mix of non-fiction essays and fiction short stories. As usual with this format, some of them were stronger than others. Would recommend to people in their 20s, who will likely relate to it more than others.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the Read I'm a lover of short stories and for a first (unfortunately also a final) collection I would say this is worth picking up. I've gone back to it again and reread bits and still enjoyed it.
Date published: 2016-01-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from get it from the library not as good as I expected!
Date published: 2016-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love in the first degree The clarity of writing is inspirational, it makes me want to pick up a pen and do some writing myself. The vast subject matter from one story to the next suggests that one story would be better than another, but that simply isn't true. Superb.
Date published: 2015-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Profoundly Moving. I'm not sure I've ever been more moved by a book than this one.
Date published: 2015-04-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't love it, yet didn't hate it. When I first picked up this book I wasn't too sure as to what to think of it, and even now I am not entirely sure. Some of the stories and essays were interesting, yet others failed to keep me interested. Overall it was a decent book. If you want a page turning book that you can get sucked into, I would not recommend this book. However if you are looking for a light read over the weekend I'd give this book a shot.
Date published: 2014-12-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Total waste of money This has to be the weirdest book I have read. What a bunch of descriptive nonsense amounting to nothing. The fictional essays are bizzare. I was expecting something really fantastic with all the hype, but I should have known better. I had intended to read the first chapter in the store, and I am sorry I did not--I never would have bought this pablum. If this is what writing has come to, then it is a sad day indeed. Give me the classics... If you insist on reading this, go to the library, curl up in the store and read it, or buy it used. Take yourself out for a nice dinner or give to charity instead--the money will be better spent. My copy is going to the trash. I can't believe I actually tried to finish this time-wasting piece of garbage--I guess I thought it would somehow get better? I am sorry I did not buy the book on the Nobel Prize winner instead--I doubt it would be any worse, and at least the girl can speak wisely. RIP Marina. I am sorry you died tragically though. That is very sad.
Date published: 2014-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book amazing book!!! everyone should read it!
Date published: 2014-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Opposite of Loneliness This was an amazing book, and should you have a chance to pick it up and read it I highly recommend it. The short fiction was engaging, emotional, and at times a little poignant. I had to read most of the stories twice to decide how I felt about what I read. Beyond that, much of the non fiction rang true and many of her tales and arguements reminded me of thins happening in my own little world and actually made me stop and think. This one is definitely and thinkable read, and you should read it.
Date published: 2014-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Just finished reading this collection, and already I want to re-read each and every story. Marina Keegan's ability to be incredibly self-aware, completely relatable, and yet fantastically unique is both enviable and refreshing. The tragedy of her sudden and much too early death should not overshadow her immense talent, and how truly engaging her voice is. Will be recommending this to friends for years to come.
Date published: 2014-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book will become iconic This book truly makes me feel old. Which neither criticizes it nor denies Marina Keegan's obvious talent. But the perspective of her characters, especially those closest in age to her, is to me so utterly alien that I recognize - for the first time in any book - the existence and eventual dominance of a generation younger than my own. The reflections of this young woman on the frailties of life and our common mortality takes on an eerie quality on account of her own untimely death. There is an uncommon introspection present in these pages, and an adventurous literary pursuit of quotidian concerns. It's all quite spellbinding. Keegan's nonfiction works are weaker than her inventions but the abundant quality of her writing never suffers.
Date published: 2014-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from "I saw everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again." "I'm young. I'm fine." This is the invincibility most young people think about themselves. But when it comes down to it, we really know that it isn't the case. Life can be a tricky maneuver and change in the blink of an eye. Life, while long and filled with optimistic hope, can just be as short and littered with shattered promises. You understand that from the life of Marina Keegan, tragically cut short by a car accident five days after her graduation from Yale, just as much as you sense it exuding from her words in this collection of essays and stories. These affecting pieces in "The Opposite of Loneliness" are presented with a keen clarity, and offers much to ponder over. Even with the 22 years of her existence, Keegan had managed to articulate herself with such awareness of herself and the world around her. She was self-assured but shared some insecurities; she was sensible beyond her years but still was learning as she matured. Think of the experiences she could have had that would have furthered her writing! Yes, and no, we shouldn't dwell and lament over the loss but celebrate what she has imparted to us. This is a voice of a generation, one that will continue to inspire countless. "Marina wouldn't want to be remembered because she's dead. She would want to be remembered because she's good." Great, will she always be.
Date published: 2014-04-11

Extra Content

Read from the Book

The Opposite of LonelinessWe don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow after Commencement and leave this place.It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four A.M. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers—partnerless, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group texts.This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse, I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m thirty. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should have . . . ,” “if I’d . . . ,” “wish I’d . . .”Of course, there are things we wish we’d done: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my high school self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes . . .). We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out—that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy—and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it: already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology . . . if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman . . . if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that . . .What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating from college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at Est Est Est. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS1 probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.1Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall is a Yale building that houses deans’ offices and a large lecture hall.

Editorial Reviews

"The ultimate summer read for Gen-Y, by Gen-Y."