The Lonely City

by Olivia Laing | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 1782111247 Global Overview for this book
Registered by cluricaune of Belfast, Co. Antrim United Kingdom on 10/13/2019
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Journal Entry 1 by cluricaune from Belfast, Co. Antrim United Kingdom on Sunday, October 13, 2019
Olivia Laing, born in 1977, is a writer and a critic. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Observer and the New York Times. She currently lives in Cambridge, having once turned down a place at the city's university to study at Sussex instead. The Lonely City is her third book, and was first published in 2016.

Following a move to New York, the book's back cover tells us that Laing "found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis" and "began to explore the lonely city by way of art." Unfortunately, “The Lonely City” wasn’t quite the book I was hoping for. I knew, of course, that Laing would be looking at the work of a number of artists throughout the book. While I’d heard of both Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol, I'm certainly no expert on either - and I knew nothing of the other artists she'd selected. So, the book was definitely informative and I did learn a few things. However, it was occasionally like reading a textbook – and I was expecting her own story to play a bigger part. Instead, when she wrote about what she was going through, it was really only mentioned in passing. She really didn’t elaborate, she didn’t explain or expand on how she was feeling – it was all very guarded. (As such, I can't really say the book lived up to its subtitle - Adventures in the Art of Being Alone). Her thoughts on social media, in the final chapter, provided what felt the most genuine section in the whole book.

As the book progressed, however, it seemed to me she became less interested in exploring loneliness through art and more interested in the struggle faced by gay artists. As such, I can't help feeling the book fell between two stools - not really fully exploring either topic. Laing's admiration for David Wojnarowicz specifically was clear - she may have been better putting this book on hold (or abandoning it altogether) and writing a book dealing exclusively on him instead. Hopper, in comparison – it seemed he was given the first chapter just to get him out of the way and be done with.

In summary, an interesting book in places but a little unstructured in others. The potential was definitely there but it feels like an opportunity missed. Overall, a disappointment.

Journal Entry 2 by cluricaune at Belfast, Co. Antrim United Kingdom on Sunday, October 13, 2019
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Journal Entry 3 by cluricaune at Connolly Station in Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland on Thursday, November 14, 2019

Released 2 wks ago (11/14/2019 UTC) at Connolly Station in Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland

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