To start off my miniseries on the Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist I read No one is talking about this by Patricia Lockwood.
Patricia Lockwood has managed to put into words the mind-numbing scatteredness of the internet whilst delivering a deep dive into human emotion. As the book is described on the blurb this is “at once a love letter to the infinite scroll and a meditation to love, language, and human connection”.
Going into this book I was unprepared for the journey I would be taken on. At first the prose is confusing and irritating, but I admire Lockwood’s ability to mirror the online experience in words. Within the snippets are real thoughts and reflections on modern life so that at once the book is both a physical reflection of the internet and a philosophical one.
I have to say that I did not see the path that this book was going to end in; the first and second parts are startling in their contrast. Whilst some people found it jarring, I appreciated the route and its meaning. I cannot say more without spoilers, but the reflection of human emotion was brilliantly done.
Overall, within 200 pages Lockwood has managed many things. The prose itself is incredibly well written and I have never read anything like it. Lockwood has previously published poetry and it really shines through in this book. The exploration of human emotion and connection was beautiful, if uncomfortably true at times. In addition, this is the first book I’ve read that I think really reflects the experience of mindless, uncontrolled scrolling. With the previous year I’m sure we’ve all fallen into once or twice!
I fully believe that this book deserves a place on the Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist, but do I think everyone will enjoy this novel? No. The way the book is written is polarising and I don’t think everyone will enjoy it as it can be disconnected, feeling to lack a certain flow at times. It is also a reflection of our current online presence, and without this context I think a lot of the meaning of the book, or the humour, will be lost. The book is a time capsule, and this aspect of the internet is referenced in the book, so it would be interesting to read again in the future. I do however think that booklovers should give the book a go.
No One is Talking About This is a modern take on constructing and writing a compelling story which some might find surprisingly poignant.
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
I tabbed many lines in this short book, but here are a few that stood out:
It was a mistake to believe that other people were not living as deeply as you were. Besides, you were not even living that deeply.
The labored officious breathing of the policemen, which was never the breathing that stopped.
If all she was was funny, and none of this was funny, where did that leave her?
Possible trigger warnings for readers include – child death. Upon reading the acknowledgements Patricia Lockwood shares her thanks to her sister, husband-in-law, and niece. This was touching but if you find stories addressing Proteus Syndrome difficult please do be aware.
With that I hope you are enthused to read No one is taking about this. If you have read it already I’d be interested on your thoughts so leave a comment.
I have just started Brit Bennet’s The Vanishing Half, so that review should be coming soon.
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