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Publisher's Summary

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.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    3 out of 5 stars

Thorough interesting research, average story

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully Written, Engaging, Informative

What made the experience of listening to The Lonely City the most enjoyable?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Highly relatable, unexpectedly personal.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Read This Book

Olivia Laing is simply a brilliant thinker. Listening to The Lonely City, I felt like I was walking around NYC having a captivating, in-depth, magical conversation with my smartest friend about Artists and culture and the sad (sometimes wondrous) baggage that comes with humanity. So good.

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Not what I wanted

I thought this was going to be a nice ode to being alone, but it just made me sad. It made loneliness seem like some eccentric malady. Also, was disappointed she only dwells on male artists...

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Unexpected and somewhat graphic

The Lonely City was an unexpected and not totally welcomed expose of the lives of several famous artists and writers who predominately lived in New York City from the 1960s-1980s. The stories are told by the author who
researches the darker sides of these people in her attempt to understand her own loneliness. The narrative is extremely intimate and graphic at times. An interesting side story that weaves around these lives is a look at the ways technology impacts humans. Unfortunately, this is somewhat depressing as well, but a brutal look at the secondary impacts that result from the variety of devices that are touted as great aides to humans. The various themes of social isolation, prejudices, depression, and of course loneliness make this book difficult to finish. However, it is worth the task for those who are willing to suffer a bit and learn more about the things that are not discussed by most people.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Being lonely is an unavoidable part of being human. Don't buy this book.

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.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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want to exchange it for another book

did not like writing style and found narrator incredibly difficult to listen to. this was recommended to me but would not recommend it to anyone else.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful