The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

A collection of essays by the woman who died on Route 6
Marina Keegan was a young and brilliant writer who was tragically killed too soon.

The dedication page of Marina Keegan posthumous collection of short essays is a three line poem called "Bygones" and it is prescient -

Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love with everything...
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.

Marina Keegan was a 23-year-old promising young writer who graduated with honors from Yale with a job waiting for her at The New Yorker and a play she had written set for production at the New York Fringe Festival.

Five days later she died in a car crash in Dennis.

Yale professor Anne Fadiman, Keegan’s mentor, writes in the book's introduction, “When a young person dies, much of the tragedy lies in her promise: what she would have done. But Marina left what she had already done: an entire body of writing far more than could fit between these covers.”

She wrote the title essay originally in the Yale Daily News. It begins, "We 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 and leave this place."... You can read it here.

One of the most touching stories is "Cold Pastoral", a melancholy exploration of young love. The protagonist, Claire, is a college student who learns of the death of a one-time lover. Her mourning process is full of anxiety as she grieves for someone with who she shared a bed, but someone she didn't understand. This leads Claire to a painful universal truth: we are not guaranteed leading roles in other people's stories, no matter how much we feel we may deserve them.

When the moon gets bored, it kills whales

That is the opening line of Marina's second essay "Why we care about whales", and it is both powerful and beautiful:

When the moon gets bored, it kills whales. Blue whales and fin whales and humpback, sperm and orca whales; centrifugal forces don’t discriminate.

With a hushed retreat, the moon pulls waters out from under fins and flippers, oscillating them backward and forward before they slip outward. At nighttime, the moon watches its work. Silver light traces the strips of lingering water, the jittery crabs, the lumps of tangled seaweed.

Slowly, awkwardly, the whales find their footing. They try to fight the waves, but they can’t fight the moon. They can’t fight the world’s rotation or the bathymetry of oceans or the inevitability that sometimes things just don’t work out... Read the rest here.

A summer visitor to Wellfleet with her family, a play by Keegan, "Utility Monster", was staged by the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater at the start of their 2013 season. "Utility Monster", according to WHAT.org won "Best Reading" at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in 2011.

Her mother and professor have published a collection of her short essays called "The Opposite of Loneliness", and it is very good.

You can read a little of it here.


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