An expertly crafted work of reportage, memoir, and biography on the subject of loneliness told through the lives of six iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring. You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by thousands of strangers. The Lonely City is a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of gneiss, concrete, and glass.
What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live if we're not intimately involved with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if our sexuality or physical body is considered deviant or damaged? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens?
Olivia Laing explores these questions by traveling deep into the work and lives of some of the century's most original artists, among them Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Edward Hopper, Henry Darger, and Klaus Nomi. Part memoir, part biography, part dazzling work of cultural criticism, The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It's a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many - millions, say - of souls.
©2016 Olivia Laing (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Olivia Laing's writing was on point. This is a great book to read/listen to if you are or have ever been lonely, if you are or have ever been an artist, if you are interested in art or art history or New York City, or if you are interested in the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s. I downloaded the book in a fit of acute loneliness, and it was comforting. I did not expect it to be so satisfying personally, politically, intellectually, and artistically. It's one of my top five audiobooks ever.
Yes! But it's too dense to absorb all at once. I immediately started it from the beginning after I finished it, and wrote out several quotes so that I could go back to reference them later.
I enjoyed the accounts of the artists in this book, and I found myself looking them and their art up throughout the book out of curiosity. Which that's what this book did - perked my curiosity. I liked the art history lesson, which you can tell Olivia Laing has done some very thorough research and I thought her own personal story and how it intertwined with the artists was cool. But at times the narration got old and dry, and I wasn't dying to listen to it everyday. Written beautifully, but not always profound.
I read the description not quite knowing what to expect. This novel forced me to look inward, forcing me, not reluctantly, to empathize with many of the individuals that were discussed.
Starts out powerful but fails mightily. I now know more about certain artists than I ever wanted to. She goes on and on and on about the lives of certain New York artists. It's massively boring.
The first part, up until she actually starts dissecting Andy Warhol, is pretty good. Then hours upon hours of more artists and their lives.
This is much more an art biography book than anything else. My feeling is author was broke and needed to write about what she was studying either for her own benefit, for the income alone or simply because she was not just lonely but also bored in a huge city, and apparently has little understanding about how to make friends.
The bottom line from this book is being lonely is what makes us human. So we should learn to like it. That's it. I suffered through hours of boredom for that little nugget.
I wish I had devoted the time I spent reading this book to making a new friend instead.
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