By Patricia Lockwood
Published by Riverhead Books
on February 16, 2021
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.
I can’t remember what about it first caught my attention, but I had been eagerly anticipating this book for some time. I finally read a copy through my library and the Libby app, and while it was a quick read, it took me some time to sit with my feelings about it.
I quite liked No One Is Talking About This, but I am almost at a loss for how to describe it. While I read the first half, which is sort of strange and formless, I enjoyed the moments of recognition I had at reading about various memes and tweets and events that were referenced throughout. It felt sort of surreal and satirical at the same time, hazy and unfocused, but I was happy to keep reading along and see if it went anywhere.
The second half of the book was told in the same style, but suddenly was much more focused, and it was at this point that I simply couldn’t put the book down. It had a huge emotional payoff for me, and I shed some tears by the time I finished.