No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
Categories: Contemporary Fiction
First Publication Date: February 16th 2021
Synopsis: 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.
Sorry if the review is a bit rambling, it’s been a couple weeks since I read this!
No One Is Talking About This started out brilliantly for me and then quickly fell flat after around 40 pages. It’s one of those books which, if you dislike the narration style, you will not like it at all – the plot, the humor, nothing could save the book anymore for me once I got tired of its narration. While filled with sharp, witty snippets of the main character’s life, many of which made me chuckle, this book felt a bit too current, the kind of book I will find impossible to read in a few years because its humor and references will be so outdated. I was under the impression this would be a mix of contemporary, satire and science fiction, but in the end we get a contemporary which starts out humorous (we follow the main character as she navigates social media in what is clearly a very online, probably unhealthy way) and then takes a quieter, sadder tone on the second half. (when something happens in her family and makes her rethink her life and her online presence). I think this will be a brilliant book for some readers, but it was not for me. The first part was not all that funny to me and the second felt too separate from the first. Yes, I know there is more to life than the internet (which she annoyingly refers to as “the portal”, which is probably why I initially thought this would go more in science fiction territory). I guess the book just did not feel as “urgent” as the synopsis described, but just another book about the internet which makes the reader think “hmmm maybe I AM wasting my life away being online all the time”, and honestly I can just read an uninspired article online for that. I like the premise very much, and I was a bit torn on how to rate this – I appreciate what the author was trying to do, but also this was a bit too on-the-nose and almost preachy. So neither is this a light, enjoyable book, nor is it a big epiphany. Personally I found this okay.