Guest Post by Sam Tarr
The Lonely Stories: 22 Celebrated Writers on the Joys & Struggles of Being Alone is a collection of distinguished and diverse writers gathered in a volume of unifying isolation narratives, a wonderful contradiction illustrating the affliction or privilege of solitude. Editor Natalie Eve Garrett aimed “to summon cathartic personal essays illuminating the experience of being alone” to challenge the shame and the taboo aspect of discussing one’s loneliness. Collected and crafted before and during the worst of pandemic lockdowns, the stories act upon the hard-learned lessons of the times, showing our isolation was not some passing phase.
Writing can be a punishingly lonely craft, so it’s the writers themselves that tie this collection together best. Each entry is a mosaic showing the complex solidarity of feeling alone. It’s in the “utter brownness” of Claire Dederer’s West Texas landscape and in the silenced pain of Yiyun Li, who “disowned [her] native tongue.” We feel the despair of it in Imani Perry’s hospital room, described as “a funhouse of refracted and repeated loneliness,” and the “different texture” of loneliness in the pre-internet era of Lev Grossman’s “Maine Man.”
Each contribution is a flare sent out of the darkness. In their glare, we see the individual reflections of loneliness. In their glow, we bask in the rebuttal.
The Lonely Stories edited by Natalie Eve Garret. Catapult, April 2022.
Reviewer bio: Sam Tarr is a graduate student at Bridgewater State University and writer living in Weymouth, MA. His work has appeared in 86 Logic and The Bridge.