Monday, July 18, 2016

Review: The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Laing's depth of research makes this a compelling book. She writes not only of her own loneliness upon coming to New York City from England and her solo walks throughout Manhattan. She delves into the psychological and the life events that can be the source of much loneliness, especially as it relates to such artists as Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol. (Laing writes interestingly, too, of some artists unfamiliar to me - Henry Darger, a hoarder who created art from his collections, and David Wojnarowicz who became an AIDS activist.)

She also writes about the effect of technological devices. "The relief of virtual space, of being plugged in, of having control. Everywhere I went in New York, on the subway, in cafes, walking down the street, people were locked into their own network........ We haven't just become alienated because we've subcontracted so many elements of our social and emotional lives to machines. It's no doubt a self-perpetuating cycle, but part of the impetus for inventing as well as buying these things is that contact is difficult, frightening, sometimes intolerably dangerous."

This book is not only for those of us who mourn the loss of in-person face-to-face communication, but for those of us who want to understand the life experiences that cause loneliness.

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