Summary and book reviews of No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

No One Is Talking About This

by Patricia Lockwood

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood X
No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2021, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Book Summary

From "a formidably gifted writer" (the New York Times Book Review), a book that asks: Is there life after the internet?

As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms "the portal," where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats--from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness--begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal's void. An avalanche of images, details, and references accumulate to form a landscape that is post-sense, post-irony, post-everything. "Are we in hell?" the people of the portal ask themselves. "Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die?"

Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: "Something has gone wrong," and "How soon can you get here?" As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.

Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.

Part One

She opened the portal, and the mind met her more than halfway. Inside, it was tropical and snowing, and the first flake of the blizzard of everything landed on her tongue and melted.

Close-ups of nail art, a pebble from outer space, a tarantula's compound eyes, a storm like canned peaches on the surface of Jupiter, Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters, a chihuahua perched on a man's erection, a garage door -spray-painted with the words STOP! DON'T EMAIL MY WIFE!

Why did the portal feel so private, when you only entered it when you needed to be everywhere?


She felt along the solid green marble of the day for the hairline crack that might let her out. This could not be forced. Outside, the air hung swagged and the clouds sat in piles of couch stuffing, and in the south of the sky there was a tender spot, where a rainbow wanted to happen.

Then three sips of coffee, and a window opened.


I'm convinced the world is getting too full lol, her brother texted her, the one who obliterated ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Throughout, the narration is fluid, with frequent shifts of perspective between "I" and "she" further off-balancing the reader. In a way, the first half of the book feels like the internet itself — disjointed, bawdy, infused with unearned confidence and genuine bewilderment that this is what we have come to, individually and collectively, both despising the online world and being incapable of disengaging from it. And then, in a moment, the direction of the novel — and the protagonist's life — changes abruptly: "...her phone buzzed and there were the words, from her far mother, Something has gone wrong, and How soon can you get here?" The second half is written largely in the same fragmented style, but its focus is drastically different; now its concerns, unlike the portal, are fully embodied, virtually the antithesis of the quips and memes that have been foremost in the protagonist's mind up until this point...continued

Full Review (709 words).

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(Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
[B]rilliant...[Lockwood is] a master of startling concision when highlighting the absurdities we’ve grown too lazy to notice...the story’s second half may be too much for some readers. It’s a vertiginous experience, gorgeously rendered but utterly devastating.

New York Times
[No One Is Talking About This] it is an arch descendant of Austen’s socio-literary style...[Lockwood] writes brilliantly and bitingly—the temptation is just to keep on quoting her.

Refinery29
Rare is the writer who can adequately capture the strange duality of life in the age of social media, a reality in which the visceral and virtual are constantly colliding. But then, Patricia Lockwood is a rare writer; one whose work—whether a poem, memoir, or tweet—distills the essence of the extremely profane and reverent all at once...[Lockwood has an] ability to reflect what is so terribly funny and so terribly tragic about this particular moment in time.

Esquire
Never has the experience of being Extremely Online been more viscerally rendered than in No One Is Talking About This, Lockwood’s astonishing novel...[that] locates both the profane and the profound in how we live online. No One Is Talking About This will frighten you, implicate you, and scrape your guts out, in the best way possible.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The woman at the center of this novel doesn't trade ironic laughter for soul-shattering awe so much as she reveals that both can coexist in the same life and that, sometimes, they may be indistinguishable. An insightful—frequently funny, often devastating—meditation on human existence online and off.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Lockwood's debut novel comes packed with the humor, bawdiness, and lyrical insight that buoyed her memoir Priestdaddy...This mighty novel screams with laughter just as it wallops with grief.

Booklist (starred review)
With unfettered, imagistic language, Lockwood conjures both a digital life that's easily fallen into, and the sorts of love and grief that can make it all fall away.

Author Blurb Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror
Reading Patricia Lockwood feels like looking through a kaleidoscope built by a mischievous sorcerer — the world is suddenly rearranged in fragments that are cosmic, wondrous, humiliating, and profane. No One Is Talking About This is a furiously original novel, alive and unstable; the book builds to a reminder of how devastation and connection produce each other, endlessly and surprisingly, both on the internet and in human places that our shared digital consciousness can never reach.

Author Blurb Sally Rooney, author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends
I really admire and love this book. Patricia Lockwood is a completely singular talent and this is her best, funniest, weirdest, most affecting work yet.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Proteus Syndrome

Midway through Patricia Lockwood's novel No One Is Talking About This, the unnamed protagonist learns that her sister's baby has been diagnosed with Proteus syndrome. You might recognize this as the condition believed to have affected Joseph Merrick, the so-called Elephant Man, whose late-19th-century life has been dramatized in a 1979 play and a 1980 Oscar-nominated film.

Merrick's medical condition was not theorized to have been Proteus syndrome until nearly a century after his death. The condition was first reported in the late 1970s and is an extremely rare disorder, with only around 200 cases recorded worldwide. It is characterized by a highly variable and unpredictable overgrowth of skin, bones, muscles, fatty tissues and blood ...

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