NYTBR: Review of Lonely City by Olivia Laing

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Todd Heisler/NY Times

The Book of Com­mon Prayer offers an inter­ces­sion for our fam­i­lies, friends and neigh­bors, and for those who are alone.” We tend to put the alone in this sep­a­rate cat­e­go­ry, but for Olivia Laing, the essen­tial unknowa­bil­i­ty of oth­ers” means that to be human is to be lone­some, at least some­times. So why don’t we talk about it more open­ly? What’s so shame­ful,” she asks, about hav­ing failed to achieve sat­is­fac­tion, about expe­ri­enc­ing unhap­pi­ness?” This dar­ing and seduc­tive book — osten­si­bly about four artists, but actu­al­ly about the uni­ver­sal strug­gle to be known — rais­es sophis­ti­cat­ed ques­tions about the expe­ri­ence of lone­li­ness, a state that in a crowd­ed city pro­vides an uneasy com­bi­na­tion of sep­a­ra­tion and expo­sure.” Read the rest of the review here.