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The Lonely City by Olivia Laing
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The Lonely City

Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

$20.99 USD

Retail price (USD): $22.95

Discount: 9%

This title is not eligible for purchase with membership credits. Why?

Narrator Susan Lyons
Length 9 hours 55 minutes
Language English
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An expertly crafted work of reportage, memoir, and biography on the subject of loneliness told through the lives of six iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by thousands of strangers. The Lonely City is a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of gneiss, concrete, and glass.

What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live if we’re not intimately involved with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if our sexuality or physical body is considered deviant or damaged? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens?

Olivia Laing explores these questions by traveling deep into the work and lives of some of the century’s most original artists, among them Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Edward Hopper, Henry Darger, and Klaus Nomi.

Part memoir, part biography, part dazzling work of cultural criticism, The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It’s a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many—millions, say—of souls.

Olivia Laing is a writer and critic. Her first book, To the River, was published by Canongate in the UK to wide acclaim and shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. She has been the deputy books editor of the Observer, and writes for the Guardian, New Statesman, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other publications. She is a MacDowell Fellow, and has received grants from the Arts Council and the Authors’ Foundation. Her critically acclaimed book The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking, is published by Picador. She lives in Cambridge, England.

Susan Lyons has appeared on numerous television shows, including A Country Practice, Police Rescue, Something in the Air, and All Saints. Among her film credits are Winds of Jarrah and In a Savage Land. She is married to Tony Award–winning actor Jefferson Mays.

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Reviews

“An impressive and beguiling combination of autobiography and biography, a balancing act that Laing effortlessly performs.”

“Every page of The Lonely City exudes a disarming, deep-down fondness for humanity.”

“A beautiful meander of a book.”

“Laing…picks up the topic of painful urban isolation and sets it down in many smart and oddly consoling places. She makes the topic her own.”

“Reminding us of how it feels to be lonely, this book gently affirms our connectedness.”

“An uncommonly observant hybrid of memoir, history, and cultural criticism.”

“Her book succeeds in offering its readers a redemptive experience comparable to the one she’s describing…This triumphant book is in part an appeal for us to value the kind of loneliness that can be rendered, by the intimacy of art, both tolerable and shareable.”

“[An] acute, nervy and personal investigation into urban solitude…A group biography all in one, which takes a difficult, almost taboo, subject and deftly turns it over anew.”

“Laing joins the ever-growing pool of writers…who are transforming memoir into a daring and dynamic literary form of discovery.”

“Laing creates a ‘map of loneliness,’ tracking its often-paradoxical contours in her own life as a transplant to New York City and traces how loneliness can inspire creativity…She invents new ways to consider how isolation plays into art or even the Internet (which turns her into an obsessed teenager, albeit one who calls the screen her ‘cathected silver lover’). For once, loneliness becomes a place worth lingering.”

“Absorbing melding of memoir, biography, art essay, and philosophical meditation…Illuminating, enriching.”

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