The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

4.1 19
by Marina Keegan

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The instant New York Times bestseller and publishing phenomenon: Marina Keegan’s posthumous collection of award-winning essays and stories “sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that


The instant New York Times bestseller and publishing phenomenon: Marina Keegan’s posthumous collection of award-winning essays and stories “sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

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 Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at The New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

Marina left behind a rich, deeply expansive trove of writing that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story “Cold Pastoral” was published on Her essay “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” was excerpted in the Financial Times, and her book was the focus of a Nicholas Kristof column in The New York Times. Millions of her contemporaries have responded to her work on social media.

As Marina wrote: “We can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” The Opposite of Loneliness is an unforgettable collection of Marina’s essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to impact the world. “How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, Keegan could take a clever idea...and make it something beautiful” (People).

Editorial Reviews

When the car rolled over and killed her, playwright and journalist Marina Keegan was just twenty-one years old. The Massachusetts native had graduated from Yale just five days before. This posthumous collection gathers her essays and stories, including a pointed Yale Daily News article that she wrote on career choice that already has gained more than 1.4 million online views. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Journalist and playwright (whose musical Independents was a prize-winning selection in the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival) Keegan’s posthumous collection, with an introduction by Anne Fadiman, serves as a tribute to the author, who died in a car crash in 2012, five days after graduating Yale University. The book illuminates the optimism and neurosis felt by new grads everywhere: “The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young.” Though the collection features more fiction than non-, the author’s voice is similar in both. Her essays hide musings about her life and relationships under innocuous subjects: her mother’s over-protectiveness about Keegan’s celiac disease, for example, leads Keegan to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a parent. In her fiction, the thematic preoccupations are closer to the surface, such as the relationship definition problems a girl faces when the boy she was “involved, of course, but not associated ” suddenly dies. Like every millennial who’s seen irony elevated to an art form, Keegan brings self-awareness to the collective insecurity of her peers, even as she captures it with a precision that only comes from someone who feels it too. How unfortunate that she will never know the value readers will find in her work. Agent: Lane Zachary, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Apr.)
J.R. Moehringer
“In her brief life Marina Keegan managed to achieve a precocious literary mastery. Her wry, wise, lyrical voice is unforgettable, and her vital, exuberant spirit reminds us powerfully to seize the day. Though every sentence throbs with what might have been, this remarkable collection is ultimately joyful and inspiring, because it represents the wonder that she was.”
Harold Bloom
"I will never cease mourning the loss of my beloved former student Marina Keegan. This book gives partial evidence of the extraordinary promise that departed with her. Throughout she manifests authentic dramatic invention and narrative skill. Beyond all those, she makes a vital appeal to everyone in her generation not to waste their gifts in mere professionalism but instead to invest their youthful pride and exuberance both in self-development and in the improvement of our tormented society.”
Anne Fadiman
"Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience, which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful. When she read her work aloud around our seminar table, it would make us snort with laughter, and then it would turn on a dime and break our hearts."
Jennifer DuBois
"Funny, poignant, tender, and fiercely alive, 'The Opposite of Loneliness' contains the keen observations of a short lifetime—and the wisdom of a much longer one."
Deborah Treisman
“The writing Marina Keegan left behind offers a tantalizing taste of a literary voice still in development, yet already imbued with unusual insight, nuance, humor, and sensitivity.”
O Magazine
“Two years after a young writer’s death, her words soar. . . . The Opposite of Loneliness...sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth. The prose, polished but thoroughly unselfconscious, is heartbreaking evidence of what could have been.”
Yale Alumni Magazine
"A bittersweet, what-might-have-been book filled with youthful optimism, energy, honesty, and beyond-her-years wisdom."
"The Opposite of Loneliness captures in both fiction and nonfiction [Keegan's] adventures in love and lust, the weird bliss of being stoned, and, as she writes, what it’s like to see 'everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again.'"
Chicago Tribune
"Remarkable... a compelling literary voice... the appeal of this collection is its improvisational quality, its feeling of being unfinished but always questioning."
People Magazine
"How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, [Keegan] could take a clever idea...and make it something beautiful."
Nicholas Kristof
"A triumph...Keegan was right to prod us all to reflect on what we seek from life."
Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
"The Opposite of Loneliness does [Keegan's] talent and memory justice, both as a picture of a generation entering adulthood and as a highly personal portrait of a gifted young woman."
Joseph P. Kahn
“What a gift Keegan has left behind. Not only in her written words...but also in her legacy of social activism and fierce belief in leading a life of purpose, not privilege.
The New Republic
“Keegan’s fiction… is built around the kind of empathetic extrapolation that makes for all the best realism… Keegan would have been—would have continued to be—a star. She would have been famous, not quietly or vaguely, but really, really famous.”
“[Keegan ] was one of the most present, incisive, and hopeful writers.… That’s the gift and the pain of her book. How incredible, how lucky, that we get to read her words, that people who never knew her or her work can find it for themselves, that she was in some way given the chance to speak to the world the way she wanted.”
“A glimpse of a young woman who is growing as a writer and a person, someone who’s thinking deeply about love and the world around her and the scale of the universe….I have no doubt she would have been great.”
“In the little time [Keegan] graced the world she created a life’s work many writers could only dream of achieving in decades.”
Rewire Me
“This posthumous collection of essays and short stories is beautiful and brilliant, young but not childish—just like the author was. Every essay is a gem you want to pick up and put in your pocket, taking it out from time to time to see how it looks in different lights—the lights of promise and potential, yearning and memory. The Opposite of Loneliness will make people cry and hope.”
New York Magazine Kevin Roose
“The loveliest piece of writing I’ve ever seen from someone so young… Her voice is steady and often very funny, her senses of character and pace are frighteningly good, and the flow of her prose is easy to get carried away by. She wasn't just college-talented; she was talented, period.”
The Hartford Courant
“A new voice of her generation.”
"Wonderful... Marina Keegan did that thing we all want to do as writers: say what everyone else is thinking, but better."
The Huffington Post
"Keegan's short stories are relatable and entertaining while her essays, including some of her op-eds from the Yale Daily News, showcase her work as an already accomplished writer. Young writers everywhere will look to her as an inspiration."
From the Publisher
"Keegan brings self-awareness to the collective insecurity of her peers even as she captures it with a precision that only comes from someone who feels it too. How unfortunate that she will never know the value readers will find in her work." —Publishers Weekly
Detroit News
"Full of uncanny wisdom...Marina would not want to be remembered because she was dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good. No worries there, Marina. You left us aching for more."
The Economist
Ms. Keegan takes on the meaningful and mundane with wit and grace. Her words alternatively swagger and tiptoe.... Reading this book is both heartbreaking and entertaining."
The Improper Bostonian
"A talented voice, silenced too soon, endures...throughout there are reminders of the talent of this forever-22-year-old."
Elite Daily
"The ultimate summer read for Gen-Y, by Gen-Y."
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of essays and short stories by a Yale graduate whose untimely death at age 22 cut short a promising journalistic and literary career. Keegan graduated from Yale as a literary golden girl with a position awaiting her at the New Yorker. But before she could even begin her job, she was killed in a car crash. This book brings together a sampling of some of Keegan's fiction and nonfiction in homage to what could have been had this remarkable young woman lived to fulfill her potential. The first section brings together short stories that showcase Keegan's ability to probe the murky, often unspoken emotional depths that haunt all relationships with fearlessness, lucidity and sensitivity. Not all of her fictional pieces, which focus primarily on exploring male/female and family dynamics, are equally strong. But they are always thoughtful, intelligent, and surprising and reveal a writer eager to find her literary voice by taking risks with both form and content. At their best, they are ferociously insightful. The second section includes essays, most of which appeared in the Yale Daily News or the Yale Herald. With wit, style and verve, Keegan explores everything from her lifelong struggle with celiac disease to a day in the life of a professional exterminator. Her most affecting pieces, however, are about the members of her own generation, many of whom feel strong, sometimes-overwhelming social pressure to seek validation in well-paying but unfulfilling jobs. "We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility," she writes, "because in the end, it's all we have." As humane as it is sympathetic, Keegan's work is a poignantly inspiring reminder of what is possible in the pursuit of dreams. A well-deserved tribute to a talented young writer.

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Meet the Author

Marina Keegan (1989-2012) was an award-winning author, journalist, playwright, poet, actress, and activist. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times; her fiction has been published on, and read on NPR’s Selected Shorts; her musical, Independents, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Marina’s final essay for The Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” became an instant global sensation, viewed by more than 1.4 million people from 98 countries. For more information, please visit

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The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you take it in the context it is written, it can be an incredible read.  Marina was so gifted, and by reading between the lines of her work, you can pull more from her writing than meets the eye.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and found the author's writing to be engaging and profound. The title draws you in and the writing keeps you there. I am not young and the author's youth does come through in her stories. But, that is what I especially like about the book, that some of the stories are fresh and some are very deep and sad. It is such a loss that the world only had this bright and witty young woman for such a short period of time. I recommended this book to my daughter as I think that she will like this talented author's writing as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not just for the young! She understood the insights of persons of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inspiring for young people.
ChiaraZ More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written and she wrote amazingly about coping with loss and love. I would recommend these stories to almost everyone because they are short and beautiful and very enjoyable to read.
Chancie 6 months ago
Solid powerful writing, absolutely loved some of the stories, but others felt lacking. Definitely worth picking up regardless!
Chowbell More than 1 year ago
Many of the world’s greatest artists, writers, and thinkers have died young, and while I feel that her writing probably would have developed with age, I loved what she wrote and got a lot out of this book. At the end, I was sad to say goodbye to a woman whom I would have liked to have seen live to give us more of the same.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reading the variety of her stories. She had the ability to draw me into her story quickly and make me see it from the inside. I would have loved to read her first novel or full length book of any subject. She becomes the star that burned out too quickly. But not before giving us this gift.
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geminieagle More than 1 year ago
Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness, which Scribner is publishing this week, is going to 
lionfish More than 1 year ago
This will probably not hold the interest of very many readers outside of the author's peer group. It is like reading a young girl's journal, in which she writes about...things young girls write about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Difficult read as many stories started in the middle of a situation and dodnt really end. Writing not great. Sounded like her middle school essays. Most stories did not hold my attention. Some were just plain odd.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inhatebthis boook i