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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 thought 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.


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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 thought 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.

30 review for No One Is Talking About This

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    I understand what this novel was trying to do and it is witty and at times genuinely moving. It does feel like two novels in one. The first is a novel about what it means to be Very Online and if you aren’t, I am not sure that it will make sense. The second is about a a family managing a terrible tragedy and how it magnified what really matters and does not matter. I really enjoyed this but I did wish the two novels felt more like one. Regardless, Lockwood is a phenomenal writer who is a keen ob I understand what this novel was trying to do and it is witty and at times genuinely moving. It does feel like two novels in one. The first is a novel about what it means to be Very Online and if you aren’t, I am not sure that it will make sense. The second is about a a family managing a terrible tragedy and how it magnified what really matters and does not matter. I really enjoyed this but I did wish the two novels felt more like one. Regardless, Lockwood is a phenomenal writer who is a keen observer of the strangeness of online culture and the fragility of the human heart.

  2. 4 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘A mind was merely something trying to make it in the world.’ Doomscrolling, thirst traps, subtweets, chonky bois, stans, sliding into DMs, shouting YAS or saying a MOOD tbh… the landscape of social media has forever altered our lexicon, our politics, our social interactions and more. It’s a rapidly shifting world with a new main character everyday (the goal of twitter, of course, is to remain as active as possible but never BE the main character) and can be an utter minefield of social anxieties ‘A mind was merely something trying to make it in the world.’ Doomscrolling, thirst traps, subtweets, chonky bois, stans, sliding into DMs, shouting YAS or saying a MOOD tbh… the landscape of social media has forever altered our lexicon, our politics, our social interactions and more. It’s a rapidly shifting world with a new main character everyday (the goal of twitter, of course, is to remain as active as possible but never BE the main character) and can be an utter minefield of social anxieties and attacks. And we love it. But how has this altered the way we engage with the world around us, especially in wake of tragedy? There are few people better equipped to tell a narrative of being Extremely Online than the Poet Laureate of Twitter herself, Patricia Lockwood. Author of the much acclaimed 2017 memoir Priestdaddy, Patricia @TriciaLockwood Lockwood has made a smash through social media, her poem Rape Joke having been a viral hit and even meeting her now-husband in a poetry chatroom. No One is Talking About This plays close to autofiction as it follows a twitter-celebrity as she speaks at social media conferences around the world and generally shitposts and laughs her way through the online community termed here as The Portal. The book takes an abrupt turn when, having existed so long in the hellscape of twitter she isn’t sure how to interact as a normal human anymore and tragedy strikes her family. From laugh-out-loud-until-you-cry funny to actually sobbing, this book is an emotional rollercoaster through our modern condition brought to life through Lockwood’s satirical and cutting observations. ‘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.’ This is the great Twitter novel we’ve always assumed someone would write, and as someone who is shamelessly very online myself I definitely felt this novel quite profoundly. Being both in on the jokes and the butt of the jokes, I suspect anyone who has ever paused to reflect on the nature of social media and the bizarre psychology of twitter (or really any social media) will get a lot from Lockwood’s musings. Lockwood preserves the vernacular of the last few years and this book is overflowing with references to viral tweets and passing social media quirks (LitHub has brilliantly annotated all the memes and references here). ‘It was so tiring to have to catch each new virus,’ Lockwood writes about keeping on pace with social media, ‘produce the perfect sneaze of it [sic], and then mutate it into something new.’. Anyone who has clamoured to reproduce a new meme or spent an afternoon perfecting the perfect parody of Williams’ This Is Just to Say will feel seen, as they say. The humor here is crude but on point, with jokes about parents using horny emojis without knowing what they mean, kinks, perverted viral commercials, etc. The book fairly well reproduces a twitter feed in style, with staccato sentences and rapid fire thoughts spaced out on the page. While Lockwood credits David Markson for much of the inspiration, she admits the layout was for this exact purpose in an interview with the New Yorker: The empty space is interrupted by these brief bursts of communal consciousness. The movement among these small explosions is what provides the plot, the ambulation. The arrangement and the presentation are what make it fictional, as the selves we present in the portal are fictional.’ The communal consciousness is what Lockwood seeks to unpack. This all feels particularly poignant as the book is set mid-Trump administration (referred to humorously as ‘the dictator’ in the book) when online interactions turned up the heat even as we realized so much of the behavior everyone rallied against was formed and perpetuated through social media.’Every day we were seeing new evidence that suggested it was the portal that had allowed the dictator to rise to power. This was humiliating. It would be like discovering that the Vietnam War was secretly caused by ham radios, or that Napoleon was operating exclusively on the advice of a parrot named Brian’ We live in a world where ‘ A person might join a site to look at pictures of her nephew and five years later believe in a flat earth,’ where I have relatives that followed me to see photos of my children and then posted on my graduation from college post that I should be lined up with my classmates and shot because college was ‘liberal brainwashing’. SOCIAL MEDIA IS FUN GUYS I SWEAR THANKS UNCLE JIM! Lockwood examines the ways our interactions with people have shifted, as well as the way we receive information and what responsibility we have to what we put out into the world. He comments, for example, on how it was likely she saw Heather Heyer’s death at Charlottesville even before Heather’s own mother would have been notified. We built this technology and corporations are making way too much money with it for there to be any chance we will turn it off, so buckle up, humanity, here we go. However, at the same time it is a really useful and beautiful tool to interact with people around the globe, share ideas, share love, spread awareness, help people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get out or around interact, etc, so it’s all a very double-edged sword so to speak. I’m thankful for a platform such as this to share and discuss books with all of you, and I really value many of the friendships I’ve made on here and other platforms and cool opportunities I wouldn’t have had without it. So thanks, social media. @poe_a_tree is me if you want to follow, I wouldn't. For the first half of the book we follow the musings of the narrator who became famous for the simple tweet ‘can a dog be twins? (‘is this your contribution to society?’ someone aggresses on her at a conference holding up a printout of that tweet), which parodies Lockwood's own viral hit 'So is Paris any good or not' on twitter. She laughs at herself and the way she turns everything into a joke, shouting ‘shoot it into my veins’ at funny posts and wondering why is she like this. Then comes part two and the floor drops out. A quick text from her mother asking her to come home cues up a really tragic narrative switch to her sister’s unborn baby being diagnosed with Proteus Syndrome, a ‘one-in-a-billion diagnoses’ best known for being the condition of the ’Elephant Man’, Joseph Merrick. This section is all the more tragic knowing it is based on Lockwood and her sister’s real experiences. Heads up, this book is going to make you cry and the way the two sections don’t seem to quite blend together is an excellent example of the way ‘real’ life and online don’t quite blend either (Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler is another recent book to tackle this idea). ‘There is still a real life to be lived,’ the narrator must remind herself as she is plunged back into figuring out how to be a person again and not a content-creator. The ongoings of the Portal suddenly don’t seem interesting or enlightened anymore and the frailty of life is examined as something bittersweet. Her traditionally conservative and pro-life family is suddenly met with one of the instances they’ve disbelieved their whole life and everyone is confronted with the sadness of it all. Being conservative Ohio, this is also timed with a turnover in the Supreme Court that has brought reproductive rights to the center stage of public political discourse and only amplifies the severity of her sister’s lack of options and women like her. ‘The faces of the senators were always comfortably closed against them, like doors on a federal holiday. Because the worst case scenarios had happened to them, the women must have done something to deserve it. They knew nothing about this period...when we were not yet the people it happened to. What proceeds from here is very moving, heartbreaking and very real. Seriously, get ready for tears. Lockwood has done something really special here. While sure, it might not age well, it also seems a great way to both memorialize the brief life of her niece as well as our current period of time. Lockwood even mocks her own endeavour, talking about how books about online life ‘had the strong whiff of old white intellectuals being weird about the blues, with possible boner involvement’, so at least she is self aware. Brilliantly observant despite being a bit too on-the-nose, this is a really moving book that is also seriously very funny. No One is Talking About This will, in fact, be a book people will be talking about. Don’t @ me. 4/5 ‘What did we have the right to expect from this life? What were the terms of the contract? What had the politicians promised us? The realtor, walking us through being’s beautiful house? Could we sue? We would sue! Could we blow it all open? We would blow it all open! Could we ... could we post about it?’

  3. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    “The people who lived in the portal were often compared to those legendary experiment rats who kept hitting a button over and over to get a pellet. But at least the rats were getting a pellet, or the hope of a pellet, or the memory of a pellet. When we hit the button, all we were getting was to be more of a rat.” This one took me by surprise, friends! It is very clever, often humorous, ultimately moving and always compulsively readable. I rarely pick up new releases. I’m not one to jump at the la “The people who lived in the portal were often compared to those legendary experiment rats who kept hitting a button over and over to get a pellet. But at least the rats were getting a pellet, or the hope of a pellet, or the memory of a pellet. When we hit the button, all we were getting was to be more of a rat.” This one took me by surprise, friends! It is very clever, often humorous, ultimately moving and always compulsively readable. I rarely pick up new releases. I’m not one to jump at the latest trends in anything – I like to see what has staying power before investing my time and money. Only once in a while do I take a chance and just go for it; occasionally the risk pays off. It sure did with this reading choice! I confess that from time to time some of this went over my head, but in no way did it ever lessen my enjoyment. The subject matter is highly relevant to today’s online world and the manner in which we handle our online personas as well as the information we take in constantly from a number of social media platforms. In this work of auto-fiction, author Patricia Lockwood uses the term portal rather than Internet or Twitter or some such site. “When she set the portal down, the Thread tugged her back toward it. She could not help following it. This might be the one that connected everything, that would knit her to an indestructible coherence.” “We took the things we found in the portal as much for granted as if they had grown there, gathered them as God’s own flowers. When we learned that they had been planted there on purpose by people who understood them to be poisonous, who were pointing their poison at us, well.” I use social media (thank you Goodreads for saving me from most of the other options out there), but I would not call myself savvy at all. I have a Facebook account which I last posted to more than three years ago (not counting a much needed update to my profile picture.) Most Instagram users would laugh if they saw the number of followers I have. I’ve never had a Twitter account. I have a teenage daughter who frequently points out my inappropriate use of memes and is constantly having to explain both her texts as well as other posts I ‘totally don’t get.’ I’m a lost cause. And yet, this book seized me and would not let go! The entire first section of the book is a loosely structured, stream-of-consciousness format that reads much like one post after another or thoughts based on those posts. The narrator became an instant sensation after a popular tweet. She travels the world speaking at conferences, gaining more fame while continuing to jump into the portal as often as ever. I nodded my head at some revelations, laughed at some absurdities, and stared into the abyss at references I sometimes didn’t understand. Added all together, however, it truly resonated. How do we fit into a world that feels increasingly connected in one way, but also untethered or ungrounded from ‘real life’? In search of a way to cure isolation and loneliness, we often find ourselves even further withdrawn than before. “You were zoomed in on the grain, you were out in space, it was the brotherhood of man, and in some ways you had never been flung further from each other. You zoomed in and zoomed in on that warm grain until it looked like the coldness of the moon.” When the narrator is suddenly summoned back home following an urgent text, the reader is jolted back to reality right along with her. The second portion of the novel takes on a different tone, but the structure remains the same. This is never a fluid narrative. And while I’m typically a fan of a more traditional narrative style, this continued to work for me. I’m not going to say anything more about the last section, because that would be spoiling it for you. All I will say is that it’s much more personal. It’s very moving. It’s real life. Rather than telling us that we MUST disconnect from our online lives however, it ultimately seems to ask us to consider what truly matters. Can we find some sort of balance? Does the internet in fact give us the opportunity to preserve a life, to document it in a meaningful way that maybe at least someone will talk about it someday? “What did we have a right to expect from this life? What were the terms of the contract?”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marchpane

    Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize 2021 No One is Talking About This is surely going to divide opinion—you’ll either think it’s brilliant or massively overhyped. Put me in the former camp. The first half reads like the Twitter Annual 2017—a sort of memorialisation of the specific memes, banter and humour of a specific tiny period in history. As a not-very-online person, some of these I recognised (remember when everyone in the world read ‘Cat Person’ on the same day?), most I did not, some I t Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize 2021 No One is Talking About This is surely going to divide opinion—you’ll either think it’s brilliant or massively overhyped. Put me in the former camp. The first half reads like the Twitter Annual 2017—a sort of memorialisation of the specific memes, banter and humour of a specific tiny period in history. As a not-very-online person, some of these I recognised (remember when everyone in the world read ‘Cat Person’ on the same day?), most I did not, some I thought I didn’t... until I googled them and realised, yes, I definitely did. When I was at school we had these school-issued diaries—planners really—that we were supposed to use to organise our class schedules, but of course we instead circulated them among our friends all year and filled them with in-jokes, weird humour, good and bad art. They were ephemeral, unlike year books, and we never thought to keep them. Part 1 of this book reminded me of those diaries: the impulse to create bonds and sense of community through this kind of throwaway banter, a shared language. If I could see one of those old diaries now it would no doubt be filled with unfunny and incomprehensible nonsense, it wouldn’t ‘hold up’ to the passing time, but that’s beside the point. Lockwood gives us one of those diaries, or at least the modern equivalent, in a capsule of communal online life from just a few years ago. She shows us how quickly the punchlines fade, yes, but more importantly, why that community feeling is so seductive, how good it feels to be in on the joke, and how hard you have to hustle to stay current when everything is passé five minutes after it was cool. The fragments and the arch, ironic tone won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and after a while it was starting to wear on me. But then… There is a dramatic shift in tone from Part 1 to Part 2. This move is jarring, but it serves a very real narrative purpose: this book is about the stark contrast between Extremely Online life and what we call Real Life; it’s about the sudden shock of being jolted from one to the other by tragic events. Lockwood is performing a very clever trick here, underscoring the character’s emotional whiplash by giving the reader emotional whiplash too. “A minute means something to her, more than it means to us. We don’t know how long she has—I can give them to her, I can give her my minutes.” Then, almost angrily, “What was I doing with them before?” Part 2 is a deeply emotional story about grief and love, while also raising questions about who gets to be seen in the online social media world, whose lives are deemed to be worth documenting this way. The fragmentary prose style remains consistent even as the subject matter darkens, emphasising the short distance between tweets and poetry at times. It’s very moving and by the time I finished and read all the way to the end of the Acknowledgements I was wiping away tears. 4.5 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    Now deservedly shortlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize. “Stream-of-consciousness…. Stream-of-consciousness was long ago conquered by a man who wanted his wife to fart all over him. But what about the stream-of-a-¬consciousness that is not entirely your own? One that you participate in, but that also acts upon you?” From your experience you know Patricia Lockwood to be (tick all the correct answers) a) Author of the memoir “Priestdaddy” and an highly thoughtful contributor to the London Review o Now deservedly shortlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize. “Stream-of-consciousness…. Stream-of-consciousness was long ago conquered by a man who wanted his wife to fart all over him. But what about the stream-of-a-¬consciousness that is not entirely your own? One that you participate in, but that also acts upon you?” From your experience you know Patricia Lockwood to be (tick all the correct answers) a) Author of the memoir “Priestdaddy” and an highly thoughtful contributor to the London Review of Books b) Author of the harrrowing viral poem “Rape Joke” c) Originator of the Twitter concept of ironical sexts (sample: “I am a living male turtleneck. You are an art teacher in winter You put your whole head through me”) and author of one of the all time great literary tweets: @parisreview. So is Paris any good or not All three are true but depending on if your answer was more a/b (or even none of the above) than b/c may depend on how you engage with the first half of this book - a novel in which the wildly heralded Poet Laureate of Twitter aims with some success to re-cast cutting edge literary fiction for the world of Twitter. The first person narrator of the novel is unnamed, but the book is heavily autofictional. Lockwood has marked with some profundity that the reason that so much fiction is now autofictional is that Google allows us to discover that it is (whereas previously we would know of author’s lives only what they chose to reveal) – a quote I found out when Googling to see how much of this novel was autofictional. The narrator has gained fame in the Portal (Lockwood’s term Twitter - not as many reviews seem to claim the entire internet - given that the word “internet” is used at least once in proximity to the Portal) for a single viral tweet: Can a dog be twins?. Now her life seems to consist of two main parts – sitting on her chair participating in the newly emerging consciousness of the Portal and travelling around the world talking about the newly emerging consciousness of the Portal – and the first part’s plot matches this The plot! That was a laugh. The plot was that she sat motionless in her chair. The book is a series of (to quote Lauren Oyler’s narattor in “Fake Account”) “Necessarily short sections, simple, aphoristic sentences, more of an essay than a novel.” - a style that is familiar now from Jenny Offill (and others) and was parodied (slightly unsuccessfully in my view) in Oyler’s novel but which Lockwood and her narrator defend (with reservations) Why were we all writing like this now? Because a new kind of connectoin had to be made, and blink, synapse, little space-between was the only way to make it. Or because, and this was more frightening, it was the way the portal wrote. Many if not most of the sections are about viral tweets and memes, almost all I think taken from 2018, very little of which is actually explained - and I have seen some criticism of this. But then I can think of a book which for full appreciation relies on an encyclopedic knowledge in one City on a single day in 1904 (or tens of pages explaining the references) and that is considered perhaps the greatest novel of all time. Returning to this novel - for those who haunted the internet that year to the extent of the narrator’s inhabitation of planet Portal (and who are likely the a/b of my introduction) much I think will be very familiar indeed and bring lots of knowing smiles that come when you get or are reminded of a shared in-joke (and so much of this section is about how the Portal is a form of shared consciousness and shared jokes and ideas – and of how difficult it is to convey that sense to future generations or to those not of the Portal). For those like me who did not – the choices I think are fourfold: (1) to ignore the memes altogether; (2) to cheat; (3) to google-while-you-read; or (4) (as a mid-case) to see which ones you can spot/recall. I read somewhere between the fourth (I was impressed with myself for example for spotting the reference to the “Cat People” short-story but it was a rare triumph) and more of the time the third approach – and would not recommend the first or second – as I think the memes and understanding them is important (see end of my review). Some – perhaps many - of the references themselves say something deeper I think about the themes that the author is exploring – sometimes in a way which is concisely explored (the book is full of eminently quotable aphorisms) and sometimes in an exercise left for the reader. One that intrigued me is a lengthy section describing watching a documentary of Thom Yorke singing “Creep” to a festival audience, a section which contains perhaps the second most insightful discussion of that song I have ever seen (the first of course to any member like me of the MTV rather than Twitter generation was by Beavis and Butthead). The narrator describes how Yorke’s almost palpable disgust at how a song which was originally and specifically around alienation/isolation is now hollered back to him by huge crowds of the very type of people that excluded him - suddenly allows him to recapture and re-own that very sense of detachment of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here at the heart of the song. And of course one thinks of how Twitter has changed over time and how the narrator and Lockwood and continually trying to reclaim the original sense of freedom they felt there against their disgust at it being the very thing that permitted and enabled the rise of Trump (called in the book the Dictator). This first part of the novel is nothing if not bold in its claims to re-address the issue of what literary fiction should be in the 2120s. As per my opening quote the Joycean comparison is explicit – and reinforced by a visit to Dublin. And a trip to Scotland leads the narrator and her husband to sneer at tourists visiting a lighthouse only to realise later that the tourists are paying homage to Virginia Woolf. Another trip leads her to view an ancient cairn and reflect: “They said all you needed to be remembered was one small stone piled on another,” she thinks to herself. “Wasn’t that what we were doing in the portal, small stone on small stone on small stone?” The second part of the novel gives a very abrupt and very deliberate change of gears. The narrator’s sister is pregnant and the LOL-ing at the baby’s head on its scans suddenly takes a dramatic turn after an urgent message from her mother asking her to fly back to the family home, as Doctors have discovered that the baby is suffering from Proteus syndrome (gigantism as suffered by the elephant man) and will likely not survive – the only real question being if her sister will also survive given Ohio laws which even make it illegal to induce a pregnant woman weeks before term. This leads to agony for her strongly, in fact militantly pro-life father – forced now to “live in the world he has created” (that itself an echo of course of the Twitterati’s dilemma in Trumps America) . And then unexpectedly the baby survives and the book takes an even more serious turn. Of course it is tempting to view the baby as a metaphor – a metaphor for the unexpected survival but also unusual and unprecedented development of Twitter as a medium, for the hyperbole and gigantism of the internet; or alternatively (as the narrator increasingly finds true feelings and depth of emotion in her love for her niece) as a metaphor for the difference between the Portal and IRL. And both of these metaphors are absolutely relevant. But also as the narrator remarks “It spoke of something deep in human beings how hard she had to pinch herself when she started thinking of it all as a metaphor.” – because this part of the book is given much greater emotional heft when you realise it is the least fictional part and that it is very much about Lockwood’s own experiences and her own niece. This section will I think be seen as emotionally moving by some and emotionally manipulative by others – I was much more in the former camp. It also of course causes the narrator to examine her use of the Portal: her popular and archly ironical persona there which has given her whatever measure of identity and recognition she has “If all she was was funny, and none of this was funny, where did that leave her?”; her realisation that the universal shared experiences of the internet do not match the individual or closely shared nature of personal tragedy “The previous unshakeable conviction that someone else was writing the inside of her head was gone”; but also a recognition that much of what she has learn through Twitter and the shared vocabulary and shortcuts she has established with her sister do enable them to find a way to navigate through and communicate during an impossible situation - “For whatever lives we lead they do prepare us for this moment.” But the strongest parts of this book are those which just examine the miracle of life, the smell of a baby’s head, that celebrate the small battles that her niece wins in a war that she was already destined to lose, even before her birth. There is so much else I could say about this book but I would urge people to engage with it. For anyone with an LRB subscription many ideas in the book were included in a British Museum lecture by the author shortly before lockdown (https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v41/n...) a lecture which the narrator also gives towards the end of the book. I listened to this book in Audiobook form – where it is excellently narrated by Kristen Sieh who captures, I think, the tone of the book perfectly. If I had any criticism it would probably be to drop the accents – particularly the Australian one. One thing about listening to the Audiobook while say walking your dog (as I did) is that unlike reading a Kindle version, or a paper copy (but with a smartphone by your side) it is not so easy to Google the various references/memes etc and find yourself drawn into your own portal. Normally I would say that is a good thing – I aim (not always successfully) to use literature to escape from the omni-presence of the screen – but here I think this does not allow full identification with the underlying worldview at the centre of the book. And as for the cheating option – well this link (which I found after I finished helps) https://lithub.com/all-the-memes-in-p... but again I think turns entering the portal into staying on the outside looking in and so does not really work. My thanks to Bloomsbury UK Audio for an Audiobook ARC via NetGalley

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    Now Nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 This autofictional account of grief could be deeply moving, if it wasn't so disparate and full of gratuitous non-insights about digital communication. Split into two parts, we first meet a narrator who is obsessed with the internet, which is referred to as "the portal". The text presents lots of weird twitter stuff pushing the deeply conservative attitude that all digital communication is necessarily deficient communication, contributing to th Now Nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 This autofictional account of grief could be deeply moving, if it wasn't so disparate and full of gratuitous non-insights about digital communication. Split into two parts, we first meet a narrator who is obsessed with the internet, which is referred to as "the portal". The text presents lots of weird twitter stuff pushing the deeply conservative attitude that all digital communication is necessarily deficient communication, contributing to the atomization of society and causing those partaking in the world of social media platforms to develop levels of dysfunction that inhibit them from fully interacting with the real world (ha, hello part 2, but I won't spoil the plot). Hot take: The quality and effects of digital media and communication depend on the individual user's media competence, which also goes for TV (which does not necessarily make you dumber), newspapers (which do not necessarily make you smarter) etc. Plus: You can say a lot about the twitter humor dished out here, but funny it is not. This kind of fishing for applause in the "o tempra, o mores"-pond generally annoys me to no end, but then part 2 hits and tells a moving story about the narrator's family being struck by grief due to an unforeseeable and unchangeable turn of destiny. Reading the acknowledgements, many of the events presented have apparently really taken place. Why oh why does this story have to be combined with a lengthy, shallow first part that then keeps showing up in the second half? Because the digital world and real life clash? Come on, Patricia Lockwood, this is so below your intellectual capabilities, give us more of that emotional truth and deep insight from part 2! All in all, an uneven effort by a talented writer who wastes half her text smugly chillaxing in platitudes about twitter when she could actually challenge and emotionally touch readers, as proven in the second half.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Boyle

    I was a huge fan of Patricia Lockwood's memoir Priestdaddy, a book I have recommended to many people. A couple of years ago, I heard her speak at an event in Dublin with Sally Rooney and thought she was hilarious. So I was eager to get stuck into her debut novel, especially when I heard that it addressed internet culture, a topic she clearly knows a lot about. The book is divided into two parts. In the first, the protagonist has achieved fame via a viral post that reads: "Can a dog be twins?". Sh I was a huge fan of Patricia Lockwood's memoir Priestdaddy, a book I have recommended to many people. A couple of years ago, I heard her speak at an event in Dublin with Sally Rooney and thought she was hilarious. So I was eager to get stuck into her debut novel, especially when I heard that it addressed internet culture, a topic she clearly knows a lot about. The book is divided into two parts. In the first, the protagonist has achieved fame via a viral post that reads: "Can a dog be twins?". She travels the world on the back of this and other humorous tweets, speaking about the internet (or "the portal" as she refers to it) on panels and at conferences. In the second part, the woman is urged to return to her family home, where her sister is experiencing pregnancy complications. The first half may test the reader's patience. How much you get out of it probably depends on how internet savvy you are. There are a lot in-jokes and references to popular memes. As an avid Twitter user myself, I found it funny and clever, though perhaps there was a lack of heft to this part of the novel. It's more like a collection of witty observations about social media, such as the sheer absurdity of it all: "As she began to type, “Enormous fatberg made of grease, wet wipes, and condoms is terrorizing London’s sewers,” her hands began to waver in their outlines and she had to rock the crown of her head against the cool wall, back and forth, back and forth. What, in place of these sentences, marched in the brains of previous generations? Folk rhymes about planting turnips, she guessed." Or how the Twitter mob decides on its next victim: "Every day their attention must turn, like the shine on a school of fish, all at once, toward a new person to hate. Sometimes the subject was a war criminal, but other times it was someone who made a heinous substitution in guacamole. It was not so much the hatred she was interested in as the swift attenuation, as if their collective blood had made a decision." Or how addictive the Internet can become: "When she was away from it, it was not just like being away from a body, but a warm body that wanted her. The way, when she was gone from it, she thought so longingly of My information. Oh, my answers. Oh, my everything I never knew I needed to know. Everything changes in the second part. The family heartache that befalls the protagonist gives the story an emotional core. It causes her to reexamine her life. However, while she begins to grasp the insignificance of the internet in the grand scheme of things, silly Twitter jokes are still sent between the narrator and her sister as a way of coping with their situation. It's OK for both worlds to co-exist, Lockwood seems to be saying. Without giving too much away, I found the second half of the story incredibly moving. Lockwood writes so beautifully about the main character's love for her little niece and the world she is so eager for her to experience: "The things she wanted the baby to know seemed small, so small. How it felt to go to a grocery store on vacation; to wake at three a.m. and run your whole life through your fingertips; first library card; new lipstick; a toe going numb for two months because you wore borrowed shoes to a friend’s wedding; Thursday; October; “She’s Like the Wind” in a dentist’s office; driver’s license picture where you look like a killer; getting your bathing suit back on after you go to the bathroom; touching a cymbal for sound and then touching it again for silence; playing house in the refrigerator box; letting a match burn down to the fingerprints; one hand in the Scrabble bag and then I I I O U E A; eyes racing to the end of Villette (skip the parts about the crétin, sweetheart), hamburger wrappers on a road trip; the twist of a heavy red apple in an orchard; word on the tip of the tongue; the portal, but just for a minute." If I do have some slight reservations about the book, it's with the first half. The nature of its fragmented commentary on social media may put some readers off and it's possible the cultural references contained within will date rapidly. But the devastating second half elevates the story into something profound, putting the protagonist's earlier carefree existence and trivial concerns into context. I experienced lots of emotions reading this book: it made me laugh, it brought a tear to my eye, and it made me grateful that we have writers as poetic and incisive as Patricia Lockwood, who can make sense of this modern world and all its madness.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    no one is talking about this absolutely defied my expectations and made me sob. i'm less engaged in social media than most people my age, so i was worried that this book wouldn't resonate with me. but it did, because it's so fucking human. it's a social media novel, but it's also so much more. the first half of the book establishes our main character as a resident of "the portal" of the internet, or twitter, or whatever it is. lockwood perfectly captures the surreal and crushing feeling of existin no one is talking about this absolutely defied my expectations and made me sob. i'm less engaged in social media than most people my age, so i was worried that this book wouldn't resonate with me. but it did, because it's so fucking human. it's a social media novel, but it's also so much more. the first half of the book establishes our main character as a resident of "the portal" of the internet, or twitter, or whatever it is. lockwood perfectly captures the surreal and crushing feeling of existing today; especially within the dark, claustrophobic, disorienting post-2016 US. it often gave me a grim chuckle, because this sense of alienated unreality is way too relatable. my digital copy is full of underlinings. the passages are short, but they all feel fucking true and scary and beautiful. then the second half comes along, and our main character is swept into a world apart from the portal. she withdraws from the standard social media alienation, and is instead faced with something much bigger. something that no one is talking about. i could relate to the disconnect that comes with occupying a space that isn’t commonly relatable or easy to talk about. and of course, the isolation of pain and grief. this second half had me absolutely enraptured. i chuckled and cried and had to double-check: is this being classified as fiction?? it's in the realm of reproductive rights, but as soon as that stops being the thing, it becomes a novel about pain and loss, and about cherishing beautiful, precious things for as long as we are able. i'm not even really sure how to talk about this. one thing i found particularly profound is about the feeling of not having a body when you're immersed in the portal; and that "the comforting thing about movies was that she could watch bodies that were not feeling they were bodies." and later, lockwood mentions that this transcendence of the dreaded corporeal form (and all its burdens) is also how we often think about heaven: The weather is sunny there. And warm, but we wouldn't feel it the way we do now because we wouldn't be in the form our bodies are in now - no sickness and broken bones. We'd be flying through the warmth more than walking. i really appreciate the subtle cyclicality of this novel. so many small ideas that return later in new contexts. lockwood's fragmented writing style won't appeal to everyone, but it's so fucking fitting here. and there are some passages i didn't connect with and references that went over my head. but i still enjoyed them. there's a sensation of this book slipping through my fingers. it's somehow ephemeral; but not for want of substance. sure, maybe this is most salient social media novel we've got as of yet. it is a remarkable encapsulation of how it feels to occupy our post-2016 world. but calling it a twitter novel is selling it short. this book buzzes with the energy of a million painful things.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

    Come on, publishers of the world , where’s your good taste and imagination? How the hell do you expect anyone to open a book with this “Hallelujah, Jesus is our saviour” kind of cover? This is ridiculous! Are you trying to sell books or boycotting them?! If it wasn’t for Goodreads and the good taste of friends, I wouldn’t have looked at this book in a million years. Rant over. Now let me tell you what this book is about and what I thought of it. But first let me just give you a bit of personal ba Come on, publishers of the world , where’s your good taste and imagination? How the hell do you expect anyone to open a book with this “Hallelujah, Jesus is our saviour” kind of cover? This is ridiculous! Are you trying to sell books or boycotting them?! If it wasn’t for Goodreads and the good taste of friends, I wouldn’t have looked at this book in a million years. Rant over. Now let me tell you what this book is about and what I thought of it. But first let me just give you a bit of personal background on how I first realised social media was becoming a thing; the big thing we all came to know so well. So this big revelation, like many other ones, came to me quite late in life, on a day back in 2010 when my sister told me about this massive social media thing called Facebook. “Facebook, really? What is that about?” I asked enthusiastically. “Oh, it’s this website where everyone creates their own page and gets to share all the stuff that matters to them.”, my sister replied quite savvily. Needless to say that I created my own Facebook page that same day. I was literally over the moon just by imagining how good it would be if we all could start sharing our own “important stuff”: Our cultural and social differences; our personal views; god, even our favourite forms of art. Well, it turns out, I was quite naive 11 years ago because the thought that we were bound to destroy ourselves instead of improving ourselves never crossed my mind. 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. So yes, all this to say that this is a novel completely focused on what it means to (obsessively) live online. And like a life spent online, its structure is completely fragmentary. This fragmented approach works perfectly well in this novel. However, on an online basis I believe all the bits and pieces randomly mixed together are a very dangerous combination of knowledge and ignorance, facts and lies. A person might join a site to look at pictures of her nephew and five years later believe in a flat earth. The things about this very intelligent and highly original novel that are going to stay with me are its completely addictive writing and also its very moving but completely unsentimental ending. Despite everything, the world had not ended yet. What was the reflex that made it catch itself? What was the balance it regained?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    I'm well aware I'm going to be an outlier on this one, but I'm not deliberately trying to have a contrary take – it just didn't do anything much for me. Feels a few years out of date despite its supposed up-to-the-minuteness; I found the tryhard Weird Twitter humour unfunny and the emotional beats predictable. Review copy from Edelweiss. I'm well aware I'm going to be an outlier on this one, but I'm not deliberately trying to have a contrary take – it just didn't do anything much for me. Feels a few years out of date despite its supposed up-to-the-minuteness; I found the tryhard Weird Twitter humour unfunny and the emotional beats predictable. Review copy from Edelweiss.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    4.5 What a phenomenal reading experience that challenged me and made me a better reader. I usually take a few days to think about the book before I write my review, but given the way this was written I know that I will be better served writing this now. There is very decidedly a Part 1 and a Part 2 of this book. (It's broken up this way so it's helpful.) Part 1 is very weird (but not in a bad way) until you get used to it and also kind of hilarious and sad. Both parts are written in the same styl 4.5 What a phenomenal reading experience that challenged me and made me a better reader. I usually take a few days to think about the book before I write my review, but given the way this was written I know that I will be better served writing this now. There is very decidedly a Part 1 and a Part 2 of this book. (It's broken up this way so it's helpful.) Part 1 is very weird (but not in a bad way) until you get used to it and also kind of hilarious and sad. Both parts are written in the same style, however Part 1 is a more rapid fire/stream of consciousness on the state of things prior to COVID. (Culturally, socially and politically.) You know that the narrator is a female, probably in her late 20s/early 30s and that she went viral online. That's about it. There are no character names, no real plot - just musings on things. Smart and observant musings though. I was highlighting like crazy! To be helpful, I thought I would reference some of the themes discussed to aid if you're deciding to pick this up or not. Topics: -Our reliance on technology - we are slaves to it and it is rapidly interfering with each generation more and more the younger someone is. -Trump is never mentioned by name, but referred to as 'The Dictator'. I think that is all you really need to know on that. -Women's rights and health -Climate change - we are destroying the Earth and no one cares Then comes Part 2. Part 2 is intense. I don't want to spoil it, but it's very moving. It's also something that does need to be discussed. I feel like the book kind of calmed down for this portion. The stream of consciousness aspect was still the same, but the pace wasn't as fast. The paragraphs were longer and more emotional. It was very much how any human being going through an intense emotional experience would handle themselves. There is the bliss of life before and then there is the current and the after. Where your eyes are opened and the things that were so important before aren't important anymore. Overall, this book really helped me grow and look at the many ways a story can be told. I am thrilled to have received this and hope this something you can be open minded enough to try. It's different, but it's very worth it. Thank you to Riverhead Books and Patricia Lockwood for the gifted finished copy. Publication Date: 02/16/2021

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    the great Twitter novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I quit Instagram a week or so ago. Well, “quit” isn’t necessarily accurate, for Instagram – really, Facebook – doesn’t let its users off so easily. To which my account wasn’t deleted in total per se, but “deactivated” should I want to return at some point in the future. It’s doubtful I will. But then again, maybe it’s not. After all, I’ve put myself on hiatus before only to come back at full force, seething with desire to post, to scroll, to like, to comment, to lie, lie, lie, because it’s all on I quit Instagram a week or so ago. Well, “quit” isn’t necessarily accurate, for Instagram – really, Facebook – doesn’t let its users off so easily. To which my account wasn’t deleted in total per se, but “deactivated” should I want to return at some point in the future. It’s doubtful I will. But then again, maybe it’s not. After all, I’ve put myself on hiatus before only to come back at full force, seething with desire to post, to scroll, to like, to comment, to lie, lie, lie, because it’s all one big fucking lie disguised as a series of heavily manipulated truths. And we all love to tell these lies, tell these sweet little lies (*wink wink*) about ourselves; real life is just too, well, real, for others to want to take interest. If this feels like a retread in thought and theory, that’s because I just made a similar assertion a couple of reviews ago when profiling Lauren Oyler’s dymanic, whipsmart debut, Fake Accounts. Likely in other reviews, as well, come to think of it. For my opinions of social media are like that of a jilted lover: quick to criticize in the face of dejection, yet wholly open to rekindling the spark despite all negative consequences. I can hear you saying to yourself: “but you quit – sorry, “deactivated” – a social media account, Matt. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?” Truth is, I’m not. In fact, this is the first I’ve proactively mentioned my exile to anyone. And it would’ve likely continued that way had I not been provoked to bring it up, for my reliance to and subsequent dismissal of social media couldn’t be more contextually relevant than it is right here and now. Have you been distracted lately? I sure as hell have. Honestly, I’m not sure how you couldn’t be. I could list the offending parties but that would be pointless; for one, it would take up too much space, and secondly, we’re all already keenly aware of what’s keeping our minds aflutter. Social media acts as a catalyst to our distractions, enabling us to lead lives in a fragmented, if not tangential, sense. And to be honest, it’s attractive, the distraction it provides – that is until distraction morphs into assimilation and renders us all cartoons; better still, avatars. The problem with this is that we’re too immersed to realize it at first. We’re too reliant upon it to admit that what was intended to be a brief respite from our daily obligations has become one of them. Instagram was my escape during COVID. I turned to it when the real world was getting too real to handle, when memes mimicking this collective sense of dread were about the only thing to distract me from its presence. I wasn’t just scrolling through my feed each and every hour of each and every day, but posting more, creating more “stories.” Hell, it had gotten to a point where I’d plan them in advance as if fulfilling a contractual obligation. I knew full well I wasn’t doing anything other than contributing to a void growing increasingly emptier. What’s more, I knew it wasn’t for any substantial fulfillment; social media has the satiation properties of a rice cake. Aside from its undeniable aptitude for altering our perceptions of reality, what social media also has is the innate ability to manipulate, whether it be our behaviors or thoughts or opinions. Mind you, to an extent I work in social media, so I was surrounded by it already. Coupled with my own personal affinity, such divergence led to nearly my every action being affected in some way, shape or form by social media. Tender family moments became meme-fied, feelings became expressed through emojis, announcing hashtags before declarative statements became part of my everyday vernacular. Suffice to say we’re still in the early stages of my self-imposed separation, but the immediate results have been rather significant. My brain was already a bit, let’s say, all over the place, long before the Internet came around, yet I’d always been able to control the chaos. I’m not quite back to having full control again just yet, but things have certainly become more streamlined. Not linear by any means, but less scattered. Maybe you find this relatable, maybe not. Maybe you’re one who is completely fine being entrenched within social media’s clutches; that’s cool, to each their own. Either way, it’s very likely you have been (or continue to be) impacted by it. Which is why it’s imperative that anyone who considers themselves part of the digital age should read No One is Talking About This. Patricia Lockwood – she of Priestdaddy fame – has gone out and crafted perhaps the most “of-the-moment” novel in the history of moments. And that’s precisely what No One is Talking About This is: a series of moments, many of which presented in fragments, all of which direct results of our protagonist’s addiction to social media. Such dependency is understandable, however; Lockwood’s unnamed heroine is an Internet superstar, having achieved fame when a post of hers (“can a dog be twins?”) goes viral. This leads to international speaking engagements whereupon she waxes romantically about “the portal” and its embarrassment of riches (and vice versa). She’s a living, breathing meme in and of herself. And it’s impacted just about everything. Her thoughts are slapdash and erratic. Her reactions even more so. Not unlike Jenny Offill’s transcendent ode to preoccupation, Weather, Lockwood takes on a staccato approach, firing off fragment after fragment and disguising them as paragraphs. It’s as if we’re scrolling through our protagonist’s brain amidst a bout of cranial nausea. Be that as it may, such scrolling doesn’t always allow for what people in my industry refer to as “thumb-stopping” content – but that’s the point. Every interesting nugget offered by Lockwood’s lead is countered by a half dozen innocuous ones. The writer is, in a sense, mimicking that age old PSA, paraphrasing its message to say: “this is your brain, and this is your brain on social media.” It’s dizzying, fitful and entirely engrossing. It’s also going to have its critics. Which is why I implore anyone who reads No One is Talking About This to solider on to its triumphant and tragic second half, wherein a family emergency brings our heroine back down to earth (or, more accurately, Ohio). It’s here where Lockwood truly flexes her muscles as a dynamic writer, balancing social media esoterism with honest-to-goodness earnestness, to showcase that even the most affected are capable feeling real feelings, manipulated though they may be. Lesser writers would’ve crafted their narrator to make a dramatic 180, to denounce social media and devote their life to something tangible; ironically, Lockwood takes the more realistic approach, offering subtle tweaks to her character’s disposition rather than gradual ones, proof positive of social media’s lingering impact. It’s as riveting as it is sad as it is hopeful. By year’s end, whichever meme you laughed at today will be nothing more than a distant memory, a forgotten cookie in your mind’s cache. Same goes for tomorrow, and the next day. Sure, you may retain a few over the course of the remaining ten months, but that’s beside the point; you’ve already been conditioned for such fleetingness. The real question should be: will it always be like this? Will we ever be able to distinguish the superficial from what’s really important? That’s why, for me, Patricia Lockwood’s brilliant novel could not have come at a better time. For social media had been practically embedded into my psyche like a source code gone awry. Who knows where my brain would be had I not “deactivated”? Would No One is Talking About This have resonated so emphatically? Either way, I’m confident this genre-defying, generation-defining zeitgeist won’t fall to the wayside like this morning’s meme, or tomorrow’s tweet. It will be something everybody will be talking about.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    2.5 rounded down Quite saddened to say that this was a huge disappointment. I loved Priestdaddy and enjoyed Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, so had been looking forward to Lockwood's fiction debut. So it's unfortunate that I didn't get much out of this and couldn't really see what the author was trying to achieve with the novel. The first half of the book is made up of a LOT of "Weird Twitter" humour, which isn't even funny (to this reader) in an ironic or satirical way, and added very littl 2.5 rounded down Quite saddened to say that this was a huge disappointment. I loved Priestdaddy and enjoyed Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, so had been looking forward to Lockwood's fiction debut. So it's unfortunate that I didn't get much out of this and couldn't really see what the author was trying to achieve with the novel. The first half of the book is made up of a LOT of "Weird Twitter" humour, which isn't even funny (to this reader) in an ironic or satirical way, and added very little to the plot. The second half of the book goes on to follow the protagonist navigating the world after the birth of her niece, who is born with birth defects. This half of the book is a complete parallel to the first, and is made up of tender moments in her niece's life. Whilst parts for this resonated with me - particular those in the latter half of the book - it just didn't come together well as a whole. A shame, as I still love Lockwood's writing, but unfortunately No One Is Talking About This just fell flat for this reader. Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I thought this book was brilliant but as I was reading, I found myself a little dismayed at the way I've heard a lot of people talk about it. So much has been made of the fact that this is a book in "two halves"--the first is an irreverent stream-of-consciousness-style series of pithy observations that mimics the experience of scrolling through Twitter, and the second is much more serious, focusing on a family tragedy. The temptation to explain this division away by describing the first half as I thought this book was brilliant but as I was reading, I found myself a little dismayed at the way I've heard a lot of people talk about it. So much has been made of the fact that this is a book in "two halves"--the first is an irreverent stream-of-consciousness-style series of pithy observations that mimics the experience of scrolling through Twitter, and the second is much more serious, focusing on a family tragedy. The temptation to explain this division away by describing the first half as Online and the second half as Real Life is understandable, but I think it does a disservice to what Lockwood has actually attempted and achieved here. I don't think it's about the division of Online/Real Life as much as it is a commentary on the inextricable fusion of the two. The narrator's framework for viewing the world through a heavily Online lens is established in the first half, and then the second half shows that in times of grief and hardship, she's still existing within that same framework even while being forced to participate in "Real Life" with more immediacy than she had been used to. While I certainly agree that this is structurally a book made up of two halves, I thought the second half of the book was such a natural continuation of the first that I really admired how Lockwood managed to achieve such a natural coherence of two completely disparate narratives.  And as an Extremely Online Person myself, I loved how much nuance Lockwood brought to this commentary. I feel like so many books and articles and essays about The Internet fall into one of two traps, either extreme reverence or utter condemnation. The reality is so much more nebulous--The Internet is this bizarre world that we all live in separate to our real lives but an intrinsic part of our real lives and I thought Lockwood captured that beautifully.  This is absolutely not a book that I'd recommend to everyone (frankly if you aren't interested in Online Culture, stay away), but it really struck a chord with me and I admired it so much more than I had expected to.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    "The words merry Christmas were now hurled like a challenge. They no longer meant newborn kings, or the dangling silver notes of a sleigh ride, or high childish hopes for snow. They meant "Do you accept Herr Santa as the all-powerful leader of the new white ethnostate?" The book is rich with these perfect digressions and Patricia Lockwood gets a ton of leeway for writing the absolutely fantastic Priestdaddy ...but this reads like an advanced AI was fed Twitter posts and Reddit memes and forced to "The words merry Christmas were now hurled like a challenge. They no longer meant newborn kings, or the dangling silver notes of a sleigh ride, or high childish hopes for snow. They meant "Do you accept Herr Santa as the all-powerful leader of the new white ethnostate?" The book is rich with these perfect digressions and Patricia Lockwood gets a ton of leeway for writing the absolutely fantastic Priestdaddy ...but this reads like an advanced AI was fed Twitter posts and Reddit memes and forced to regurgitate a tragicomic novel. Lockwood is a Grand Master Twitter user and there is no shortage of fragmentary emissions here that will elicit an ahahahahaha! (the newer, funnier way to laugh - don't ask me about sneazing) But you still have to read this like a novel and not the endless doom-scrolling consumption the internet invites. And I think that's what broke me. Besides, it's hard to keep up with the online easter eggs. While some memes like the "this is fine" dog can reach ubiquitous status so that even the normies on Facebook are gleefully reposting it as a reaction to the last year, most bits of online ephemera never rise above their brief, blazing week of relevance. We're all ants now? Big Hero 6 suddenly relevant? What's up with Ocean Spray Cranberry juice or Gorilla Glue? Is everyone eating ass now? And just as Twitter can foster an endless stream of hot takes, irreverent shit-posts and ironic trolling it can just as quickly offer up flashes of sincerity and heart. Here too the book switches gears in the second half when the protagonist's sister's baby is diagnosed with Proteus syndrome - mirroring Lockwood's neice's condition that would ultimately take her life at 6 months of age. Lockwood is momentarily seized with doubt "If all she was was funny, and none of this was funny, where did that leave her?” The endless scroll turns stream of consciousness and you remember that before she was writing enigmatic tweets like "can a dog be twins" Lockwood was a poet and memoirist of the highest order. The book didn't fire on all cylinders for me but I will still pick up anything she writes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Banks

    4.5. Very close to a 5. Lockwood's No One is Talking About This is a novel of the moment, (shortlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction and I reckon a strong contender for Booker prize listing). It's receiving a lot of well-deserved attention and positive reviews: everyone is talking about it :) Structurally it really is a novel in two halves and for me it's how these two halves resonate in tension and even contradiction that make this such a great work. Many readers comment on the heartrend 4.5. Very close to a 5. Lockwood's No One is Talking About This is a novel of the moment, (shortlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction and I reckon a strong contender for Booker prize listing). It's receiving a lot of well-deserved attention and positive reviews: everyone is talking about it :) Structurally it really is a novel in two halves and for me it's how these two halves resonate in tension and even contradiction that make this such a great work. Many readers comment on the heartrending power of the second half. Yup, with its lyrical intensity and precision it hits you in the soul and guts. The pain and sadness and wonder of the female narrator and her family (especially sister) as they go through a tragic experience is very much my Hamnet read of 2021. I shed a few tears (not just at the authentic humanity that is shared here in all its raw pain but also for the gorgeous, lyrical poetic language). In the first half of the work the nameless female protagonist comes through as an ironic, witty denzien of Twitter (here called the portal). Building something of a celebrity status through her all too knowingly ironic tweets and meme creation, she strives to always be funny (and even the layers of irony should never be taken seriously). The sense built through the fragmentary pointillist passages (all so twitteresque in form) is of a voice and perhaps wider shared social media collective consciousness quickly disappearing up its own orifice in a kind of black hole of nihilistic triviality. "The mind we were in was obsessive, perseverant. It swam with superstition and half-remembered facts pertaining to how many spiders we ate a year and the rate at which dentists killed themselves. One hemisphere had never been to college, the other hemisphere had attended one of those institutions that is only ever referred to as a bubble, though not beautiful At times it disintegrated into lists of diseases. But worth remembering: the mind had been, in its childhood, a place of play. It had also once been the place where you sounded like yourself. Gradually it had become the place where we sounded like each other, through some erosion of wind or water on a self not nearly as firm as stone" So there's also a kind of nostalgia here for a time in which the internet was a place of optimistic promise and potential. I won't quote these passages here as they are fun and funny for readers to discover for themselves (identifying some contemporary meme moments), but there's at same time an unsettling lyricism to how Lockwood crafts these passages. And I think this style prefigures the shift that interrupts all of this in the second half (the painful intervention of real life and relationships that exceed the life of the portal). Some critics suggest the first half (with the focus on a life lived in and through the portal as a commentary on our social media moment) isn't as successful as the second. That it feels a little too contrived in its staging of the witty fragments, too much 'look at me, look how funny and knowingly , wink-wink, ironic I'm being. Even laughing at the irony. Look how well I set that one up, even coating it with all that laser like lyricism for my knowing readers'. Here's a review from The Guardian that I think expresses this issue well: https://www.theguardian.com/books/202.... And yes there is that. But structurally, in counterpoint with the second half of this work, just wow. For me it works so well and casts each half differently. As the second-half echoes and reverberates back into the first-half and vice-versa, literary excellence for me. As the narrator asks in the second half: "If all she was was funny, and none of this was funny, where did that leave her?" I wouldn't give up on the power of funny and comedy so easily, even in the midst of life's painful, searing tragedies. And you will see there's a moment of almost joyous, absurd humor shared in the final pages that I think offers a kind of response to this question and perhaps also throws into relief, but differently, the edgy humour that characterises the book's first half. There's much to admire here. No One is Talking About This would be I think a well deserved winner of the Women's prize for fiction and most definitely earns its place on the shortlist.

  18. 4 out of 5

    James

    If you've never been on Twitter, or only vaguely understand how it works, then this is a book you’ll probably want to avoid. But if terms like blue-check, quote-tweet, sub-tweet, and muting are familiar to you, then there's a good chance you'll enjoy this every bit as much as I did. I used to be one of those people who swore they’d never be caught dead using the word "tweet" in any context that was not about birds. I despised the stingy 280-character limit and sadistic absence of any "Edit" funct If you've never been on Twitter, or only vaguely understand how it works, then this is a book you’ll probably want to avoid. But if terms like blue-check, quote-tweet, sub-tweet, and muting are familiar to you, then there's a good chance you'll enjoy this every bit as much as I did. I used to be one of those people who swore they’d never be caught dead using the word "tweet" in any context that was not about birds. I despised the stingy 280-character limit and sadistic absence of any "Edit" function. All of the #'s and @'s cluttering up every tweet seemed like some kind of inscrutable code used by a pretentious private club I had no desire to join. But the universe has a funny way of humbling (or is it mocking?) us about these things, and a few years ago I was basically forced to join Twitter as part of my job. Over time, I've gone from resentfully tolerating it to openly enjoying it. My Twitter feed has become a comically bizarre mash-up of Politics Twitter, Gay Twitter, Black Twitter, Arts Twitter, and Porn Twitter. During the BLM protests last summer, I grew to appreciate the immediacy and intimacy of Twitter journalism, the way it relayed urgent stories in real time that mainstream media would only get around to reporting a day or two later, if at all. I felt inspired by the almost surreal democratization of it all, with politicians, academics, celebrities, and ordinary citizens all interacting and sharing information, political analyses, humor, and pop culture with one another in ways they never could have done in earlier times. Of course I've also witnessed firsthand Twitter's dark and dangerous power, the way misinformation, slanderous accusations, and anti-democratic conspiracy theories can spread like wildfire; or the way self-righteous "woke" mobs can destroy reputations and stifle free speech in a mere matter of minutes.  Patricia Lockwood touches on all of this and so much more in this wonderfully weird and compulsively readable book. It's an intimate and at times unsettling account of Twitter Culture and what it feels like when the lines between Twitterverse and Real World start to blur. But it's also broader and deeper than that, capturing with impressive and poignant accuracy EXACTLY how it felt to live through the nightmare of these past four to five years; how we paradoxically managed to preserve AND lose our collective sanity by coming together to commiserate and cope with our national trauma through Twitter. It's a PTSD novel for the post-Trump era, distilling all of our anxiety, terror, disbelief, and helpless rage into written word form unlike anything else I've read so far. It also happens to be deliriously, addictively FUNNY. Lockwood satirizes the many absurdities and superficialities of this new digital age while also guiltily celebrating them at the same time. I found her ambivalence to be both refreshingly honest and deeply relatable. I suspect I may be in the minority by preferring Part 1 over Part 2. I appreciated what Part 2 was trying to do, but it felt tame and predictable compared to the exhilarating, almost manic stream-of-consciousness energy from Part 1. I'm going to say 5 stars for the first half, 3 stars for the second half, meeting in the middle at a unique and unforgettable 4 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anita Pomerantz

    Let's start with the fact that this book had a couple of tremendous strengths. Despite those, I can't really say I liked it. While it was thematically interesting and had moments that were truly touching, those strengths were offset by its structure. The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, we are introduced to a girl who is really, really into the internet (known as the portal here). She is an influencer (in today's parlance) who rose to fame with a single meme. Her life is effect Let's start with the fact that this book had a couple of tremendous strengths. Despite those, I can't really say I liked it. While it was thematically interesting and had moments that were truly touching, those strengths were offset by its structure. The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, we are introduced to a girl who is really, really into the internet (known as the portal here). She is an influencer (in today's parlance) who rose to fame with a single meme. Her life is effectively lived online. Part I basically illustrates this by re-surfacing a whole bunch of Twitter nostalgia in bite sized chunks. If you were into Twitter in 2017-19, this whole section might be a fun reminiscence. If you weren't (and I wasn't), you basically have little idea of what is being alluded to. Fortunately, you can google it all, and some enterprising person actually compiled a list. But I fail to see how this structure made for a good reading experience. Nor did I feel like I really got a whole lot of insight into our protagonist other than her life was inseparable from the online world. That's an interesting piece of social commentary to ponder actually, but by trying to present it in such a "I'm oh so clever" way, I think it became mostly boring. Part II was fortunately much better. The protagonist's niece is born, and unfortunately she is has a syndrome (one you will recognize, but I don't want to spoil too much here). She is yanked away from her internet life forced into the real world by this crisis situation. From here, we see a family dealing with the tremendous love of a child, despite her imperfections, and the accompanying grief that derives from her hopeless condition. There are some important moments of truth in this section, and I think anyone who has had a child will really be hard pressed not to shed a tear. However, there are still moments from the portal and bits of pop culture woven into part II, and the structure of very short paragraphs remains . . .and for me, it was merely distracting. As soon as I was feeling something, I was onto the next thing. This book struck me as one that might be cool to read in college. The author seemed to be saying that online life, which is almost always going in for a laugh or out for a kill, is a distraction from the real world where perfection is not a pre-requisite to love and even the helpless creatures help to underscore our humanity. Or maybe I was just hoping that's what the author wanted to say. It's possible she just wanted to juxtapose the comedy of our online existence to the pathos of reality, and to show how fragmented our lives have become with only the most impactful life events pulling us back from the lure of the portal. The problem is - - I'm really not sure what she meant, whether this book was intended as black comedy, or a salute to internet culture, or an autobiographical tribute for her sister. I have no idea really, and while I salute the creative effort, I can't say I liked where I ended up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Part pithy yet fragmented reflection of what it's like to live in "the portal" reminiscent of Jenny Offill, transitioning to a story about a baby born into a family who loves her despite her inability to thrive. It's ... a strange combination and I was bummed the author didn't narrate. A lot of the observational humor in the first half of the novel will make more sense to you if you are heavily entrenched in Instagram or TikTok, but also meme culture. And a lot of it is quite in your face as far Part pithy yet fragmented reflection of what it's like to live in "the portal" reminiscent of Jenny Offill, transitioning to a story about a baby born into a family who loves her despite her inability to thrive. It's ... a strange combination and I was bummed the author didn't narrate. A lot of the observational humor in the first half of the novel will make more sense to you if you are heavily entrenched in Instagram or TikTok, but also meme culture. And a lot of it is quite in your face as far as crassness, joking about death, destruction, sex, etc. It won't be for everyone. Also CW for (view spoiler)[ death of child (hide spoiler)] . I listened to this through the Volumes App which I have access to thanks to Random House Audio and sometimes Penguin Audio. This book came out February 16, 2021.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Part Twitter-novel, part autofiction, Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This explores how humans can co-exist with one another and the internet while searching for meaning and what it means to exist. The writing is sharp and at times extremely funny. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions, only to be completely devastated by others. She pokes fun at while also lends great empathy to the hivemind of internet culture. Our memes and jokes seem only to be a guise for the hurt and sufferi Part Twitter-novel, part autofiction, Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This explores how humans can co-exist with one another and the internet while searching for meaning and what it means to exist. The writing is sharp and at times extremely funny. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions, only to be completely devastated by others. She pokes fun at while also lends great empathy to the hivemind of internet culture. Our memes and jokes seem only to be a guise for the hurt and suffering we are trying to process on our own; but sometimes a Twitter thought like 'can a dog be twins?' is just that, and nothing more. About the halfway mark the novel turns a bit while maintaining the same stylistic choices. It expands and contracts into these very insular moments in a person's life, deep into the recesses of their brain and into their thumbs on a keyboard. Our unnamed narrator expresses herself in the only ways she knows how and Lockwood poetically translates that into something endearing and jarring at the same time. I know this book won't be for everyone. And there were definitely moments of this novel where I was questioning its efficacy. However, I think it's worth reading for the short, pithy comments on the internet alone, and while you're there you'll find a heartrending but touching story about so much more than what's happening 'online.'

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    Shortlisted for the Women's Prize 2021 This book is in two parts, and the shorter second part is much stronger and more personal than the first. In the first half we meet the unnamed main protagonist, who spends much of her life on social media where she has attracted a degree of fame that allows her to travel around the world talking about her life. The book is narrated from an omniscient third person perspective, but the protagonist clearly has many autobiographical elements. The first part of Shortlisted for the Women's Prize 2021 This book is in two parts, and the shorter second part is much stronger and more personal than the first. In the first half we meet the unnamed main protagonist, who spends much of her life on social media where she has attracted a degree of fame that allows her to travel around the world talking about her life. The book is narrated from an omniscient third person perspective, but the protagonist clearly has many autobiographical elements. The first part of the book largely mirrors social media - it is full of disconnected factoids and memes linked by a loose personal narrative. The story really comes to life at the start of the second part, when the protagonist is called home by her mother to help with her sister's problems - the sister is pregnant and the scans have revealed that she is suffering from Proteus syndrome, and the account of the way the family deal with this is deeply moving. The book as a whole is rather difficult to assess - my four star rating is a compromise between a generous three for the first part and five for the second.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Britta Böhler

    Unfortunately, not my cup of tea at all. I guess twitter just doesnt interest me enough? (Ok, boomer, yes, I know.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    SHOMPA

    Lockwood absolutely stunned me with this masterpiece. The concept was different and a really good read for all ages. I am glad to have read it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    fran

    read in one sitting (profound endorsement) and snapped in half when the main character decides to read Marlon Brando's wikipedia page to the baby read in one sitting (profound endorsement) and snapped in half when the main character decides to read Marlon Brando's wikipedia page to the baby

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Patricia Lockwood’s unnamed protagonist became famous for posting the question, “Can a dog be twins?” That inane koan launched her globe-spanning career as a social media star. What follows is a series of isolated moments about a woman who is both a creature and a critic of the Web. “No One Is Talking About This” refers to the Internet as “the portal,” which is all part of its effort to disorient us enough to see how bizarre modern life has become. The narrator, raised “to a certain airy prominen Patricia Lockwood’s unnamed protagonist became famous for posting the question, “Can a dog be twins?” That inane koan launched her globe-spanning career as a social media star. What follows is a series of isolated moments about a woman who is both a creature and a critic of the Web. “No One Is Talking About This” refers to the Internet as “the portal,” which is all part of its effort to disorient us enough to see how bizarre modern life has become. The narrator, raised “to a certain airy prominence,” lives in a surreal fusion with social media. “She opened the portal, and the mind met her more than half-way,” Lockwood writes. “Why did the portal feel so private, when you only entered it when you needed to be everywhere?” Such are the abiding mysteries of experience engineered by a few weird billionaires in Silicon Valley. “This did not feel like real life, exactly,” she says, “but nowadays what did?” The short sections that pour across these pages — most not much longer than a couple of tweets — offer a tour of our collective consciousness, the great cacophony of images and voices that catch the virtual world’s attention: “She lay every morning under an avalanche of details, blissed, pictures of breakfasts in Patagonia, a girl applying her foundation with a hard-boiled egg, a shiba inu in Japan leaping from paw to paw to greet its own owner, ghostly pale women posting pictures of their bruises — the world pressing closer and closer, the spiderweb of human connection grown so thick it was almost a shimmering and solid silk.” You can hear in these moments Lockwood’s experience as a poet. She’s a master of startling concision when highlighting the absurdities we’ve grown too lazy to. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    For long stretches, this didn't work for me. I found the first part near unreadable. It felt like scrolling through Twitter - if everyone you followed was a youngish white US American. The second part made me at least understand why Lockwood chose to do this and had some genuinely moving and striking imagery. But overall, not my favorite. For long stretches, this didn't work for me. I found the first part near unreadable. It felt like scrolling through Twitter - if everyone you followed was a youngish white US American. The second part made me at least understand why Lockwood chose to do this and had some genuinely moving and striking imagery. But overall, not my favorite.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Hephzibah

    This is ... quite possibly ... the worst book I've ever read. It made literally no sense. There is no plot, no development, no rhyme or reason between each paragraph. It is bafflingly shit and I cannot for the life of me comprehend the high ratings when it makes no sense??? What the fuck is going on??? This is ... quite possibly ... the worst book I've ever read. It made literally no sense. There is no plot, no development, no rhyme or reason between each paragraph. It is bafflingly shit and I cannot for the life of me comprehend the high ratings when it makes no sense??? What the fuck is going on???

  29. 4 out of 5

    W.D. Clarke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fair warning: the final third of this book is almost unbearably poignant, and it is to the author's certain credit that she has rendered human suffering with not only great skill, but with wisdom, compassion, and even humour. Quite coincidentally, I had planned on reading Terry Eagleton's newish excursis, Tragedy (before being induced to jumping on the Lockwood train by friend ATG's review), and in the former, TE writes: In the view of some modern critics, philosophers such as Hegel gentrify t Fair warning: the final third of this book is almost unbearably poignant, and it is to the author's certain credit that she has rendered human suffering with not only great skill, but with wisdom, compassion, and even humour. Quite coincidentally, I had planned on reading Terry Eagleton's newish excursis, Tragedy (before being induced to jumping on the Lockwood train by friend ATG's review), and in the former, TE writes: In the view of some modern critics, philosophers such as Hegel gentrify the unspeakable by insisting that tragedy discloses a rational design. It is a persuasive case, though the very fact that tragic art exists suggests that there is more to the world than pain. Tragedy is not a cry without words. The trauma of the Real for Jacques Lacan lies beyond language, but tragedy remains just on this side of that silence. ‘Language by means of sounds, or better still words, is a vast liberation,’ writes Bertolt Brecht, ‘because it means the sufferer is beginning to produce something. He’s already mixing his sorrow with an account of the blows he has received; he’s already making something out of the utterly devastating. Observation has set in.’ Rather than "gentrifying" trauma, Lockwood makes it speak, and so has indeed done what Brecht suggests in that final third of her book: observing, suffering, mixing, making: they point toward a kind of possible liberation because they document the interpersonal nature of, and possible for solidarity in, a grief that is shared. For the first two-thirds of a book, though, our narrator is observing, sure, the ir-rational design of the "culture" of the interwebs (or the Portal, as she portentously calls it), but she is largely alone in her togetherness with millions of other twitterers, and while should be eternally thankful that we are in her head-space (in which she interrogates her place in the culture with such typically satirical nano-essays such as...) How were we supposed to write now that we could no longer compare anything to a phantom limb? Was the phrase “the Braille of her nipples” to be absolutely retired? Were we just never to say that someone “inclined her head like a geisha” ever again? Could we not call the weather bipolar without risking the prison of public opinion? Not imply that birdwatchers are autistic? Could we not say the crescent moon was “as slender as a poor person”? Not say the sun “crashed inevitably into the mountains like a woman driver”? ...rather than endure too much of a re-presentation of what it's like to engage with the nastier corners of the Web/Net (substitute whatever word I should used if I was not a dad-jean-wearing Gen-Xer), but that does raise a bit of a limitation to this book. For all of her verbal agility (and it is considerable!), this is largely (until Part Two, of course) a pleasure cruise through Junk Culture with that high-level solipsist, the Hive Mind—albeit with a whip-smart version of Julie the Cruise Director keeping us...diverted. Nothing wrong with that! But I think that in his I Hate the Internet Jarett Kobek does a better job of portraying online culture (there's that word again) while gaining some critical distance on its socio-politico-economic implications. Also, you might have to be more on Twitter than I've ever been to really, really dig Part One of this book (and Part One really, really digs Twitter, I think, and maybe a bit too much for its own good). I was entertained, made to think, stymied a little, went "Woo!" along with the rest of the Portal a couple of times, but was not wooed, and not "wowed"—until Part Two, of course, and its tale of bottomless woe, its terrible beauty—just...wow. Woah. 3* overall, then, but deep respectful bow to that Part 2...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    I can't talk about this book, and I don't think I'll ever be able to talk about it. I also can't imagine the person to whom I would ever recommend it. It has two parts, both written in fragments. Part one is irrelevance about online irrelevance. Part two ripped my soul from my body; about a beautiful little girl, shimmering stardust, who came and went from the world in six months and a day. I can't talk about this book, and I don't think I'll ever be able to talk about it. I also can't imagine the person to whom I would ever recommend it. It has two parts, both written in fragments. Part one is irrelevance about online irrelevance. Part two ripped my soul from my body; about a beautiful little girl, shimmering stardust, who came and went from the world in six months and a day.

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