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The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Olivia Laing


A study of loneliness through the medium of several different artists, and the author's discovery and reaction to them. Some of these artists are well-known, in name if not in the detail of their lives: Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper, Billie Holliday, and even to a lesser extent Valeri Solanas (who shot Warhol). Others were unknown to me: David Wojnarowicz and (especially) Henry Darger.

I'm not convinced that the studies of these artists – fascinating though they are – casts much light either on the author's travails or on loneliness more broadly. The first part of the book is stronger in this respect, with a quite penetrating analysis of the difference between loneliness and solitude, and the virtues (for some) of being alone. It's something every introvert can identify with. I was left with the feeling of a chapter missing, the need to draw all the strings of art and reflection together.

4/5. Finished 24 February 2018.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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