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No One Is Talking About This
Cover of No One Is Talking About This
No One Is Talking About This
A Novel
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE 
LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
  
“A book that reads like a prose poem, at once sublime, profane, intimate, philosophical, witty and, eventually, deeply moving.”New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“Wow. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much reading a book. What an inventive and startling writer…I’m so glad I read this. I really think this book is remarkable.” —David Sedaris
 
From "a formidably gifted writer" (The New York Times Book Review), a book that asks: Is there life after the internet?

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.
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE 
LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
  
“A book that reads like a prose poem, at once sublime, profane, intimate, philosophical, witty and, eventually, deeply moving.”New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“Wow. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much reading a book. What an inventive and startling writer…I’m so glad I read this. I really think this book is remarkable.” —David Sedaris
 
From "a formidably gifted writer" (The New York Times Book Review), a book that asks: Is there life after the internet?

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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  • From the book

    Part One

    She opened the portal, and the mind met her more than halfway. Inside, it was tropical and snowing, and the first flake of the blizzard of everything landed on her tongue and melted.

    Close-ups of nail art, a pebble from outer space, a tarantula’s compound eyes, a storm like canned peaches on the surface of Jupiter, Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters, a chihuahua perched on a man’s erection, a garage door -spray-painted with the words STOP! DON’T EMAIL MY WIFE!

    Why did the portal feel so private, when you only entered it when you needed to be everywhere?

     

    She felt along the solid green marble of the day for the hairline crack that might let her out. This could not be forced. Outside, the air hung swagged and the clouds sat in piles of couch stuffing, and in the south of the sky there was a tender spot, where a rainbow wanted to happen.

    Then three sips of coffee, and a window opened.

     

    I’m convinced the world is getting too full lol, her brother texted her, the one who obliterated himself at the end of every day with a personal comet called Fireball.

     

    Capitalism! It was important to hate it, even though it was how you got money. Slowly, slowly, she found herself moving toward a position so philosophical even Jesus couldn’t have held it: that she must hate capitalism while at the same time loving film montages set in department stores.

     

    Politics! The trouble was that they had a dictator now, which, according to some people (white), they had never had before, and according to other people (everyone else), they had only ever been having, constantly, since the beginning of the world. Her stupidity panicked her, as well as the way her voice now sounded when she talked to people who hadn’t stopped being stupid yet.

    The problem was that the dictator was very funny, which had maybe always been true of all dictators. Absurdism, she thought. Suddenly all those Russian novels where a man turns into a teaspoonful of blackberry jam at a country house began to make sense.

     

    What had the beautiful thought been, the bright profundity she had roused herself to write down? She opened her notebook with the sense of anticipation she always felt on such -occasions—perhaps this would finally be it, the one they would chisel on her gravestone. It read:

    chuck e cheese can munch a hole in my -youknow-what

     

    After you died, she thought as she carefully washed her legs under the fine needles of water, for she had recently learned that some people didn’t, you would see a little pie chart that told you how much of your life had been spent in the shower arguing with people you had never met. Oh but like that was somehow less worthy than spending your time carefully monitoring the thickness of beaver houses for signs of the severity of the coming winter?

     

    Was she stimming?? She feared very much that she was.

     

    Things that were always there:

    The sun.

    Her body, and the barest riffling at the roots of her hair.

    An almost music in the air, unarranged and primary and swirling, like yarns laid out in their colors waiting.

    The theme song of a childhood show where mannequins came to life at night in a department store.

    Anonymous History Channel footage of gray millions on the march, -shark-snouted airplanes, silk deployments of missiles, mushroom clouds.

    An episode of True Life about a girl who liked to oil herself up, get into a pot with assorted vegetables, and pretend that cannibals were going to eat her. Sexually.

    The almost-formed...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 9, 2020
    Lockwood’s debut novel comes packed with the humor, bawdiness, and lyrical insight that buoyed her memoir Priestdaddy. The unnamed narrator—made famous by a viral post that read, “Can a dog be twins”—travels the world to speak on panels, where she explains such things as why it’s better to use the spelling “sneazing” (it’s “objectively funnier”). While in Vienna for a conference, her mother urges her to come home to Ohio, where the narrator’s younger sister is having complications with her pregnancy and may need a late-term abortion. There, in the book’s shimmering second half, the internet jokes continue between the sisters as a means of coping with uncertainty, and resonate with the theme of life’s ephemerality vs. the internet’s infinitude. Throughout, a fragmented style captures and sometimes elevates a series of text messages and memes amid the meditations on family (“I’m convinced the world is getting too full lol, her brother texted her, the one who obliterated himself at the end of every day with a personal comet called Fireball”). This mighty novel screams with laughter just as it wallops with grief. Agent: Mollie Glick, Creative Arts Agency.

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2020
    Debut novel from the internet-famous poet and author of the memoir Priestdaddy (2017). Lockwood first made a name for herself on Twitter: "@parisreview So is Paris any good or not." Such was the acclaim of this 2013 tweet that the Paris Review felt compelled to respond to it--a year after it was first posted--with a review of Paris. In 2013, Lockwood achieved a new level of web-based fame when "Rape Joke" went viral. This poem seems, in retrospect, to have been perfectly calibrated for a moment when people--mostly young or youngish, largely online--were asking themselves who gets to talk about what and how. But it also succeeds--and continues to succeed--as a work of literature. All of this is to say that Lockwood is very much of the internet but also, perhaps, our guide to moving beyond thinking of the internet as a thing apart from real lives and real art. Her debut novel is divided into two parts. The first introduces us to a nameless protagonist who makes up famous tweets and composes blog posts and turns this into a career traveling the world talking about tweets and blog posts. In the second part, this character goes back to her family home when she learns that the baby her sister is carrying has a profound congenital disorder. The first part is written in short little bursts that feel like Instagram captions or texts--but if Lydia Davis was writing Instagram captions and texts. The second part is written in short little bursts that feel like they're being written in spare moments snatched while caring for an infant. (Again, Lydia Davis comes to mind.) This bifurcation mirrors the protagonist's own meditations on the difference between the life that she chooses online and the life that comes crashing in on her, but it's a mistake to imagine that this novel is simply an indictment of the former and a celebration of the latter. The woman at the center of this novel doesn't trade ironic laughter for soul-shattering awe so much as she reveals that both can coexist in the same life and that, sometimes, they may be indistinguishable. An insightful--frequently funny, often devastating--meditation on human existence online and off.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2021
    In this first novel from poet and memoirist Lockwood (Priestdaddy, 2017), an unnamed woman practically lives in ""the portal,"" which is something like the internet. A viral post--""Can a dog be twins?""--lent her ""a certain airy prominence,"" and now she speaks about the portal on panels all over the world. On the top of a Ferris wheel in Vienna, she receives a text that sends her back home to Ohio: concerning information has appeared late in her younger sister's pregnancy. So begins the book's part two, and the first stirrings of a conventional plot. Lockwood's narration of the woman's thoughts propels this provocative, addictive, and unusual novel. The book's first half is filled with her darkly irreverent, mordant musings on the portal and how it got to this, a screen-addled situation that sounds much like our own. After the revelation, though, the scroll of posts and memes is replaced by another unfathomable yet recognizable place, one of sickness, doctors' best guesses, and a crystalline hope for survival; it's like a stream rushing to an ocean. With unfettered, imagistic language, Lockwood conjures both a digital life that's easily fallen into, and the sorts of love and grief that can make it all fall away.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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No One Is Talking About This
No One Is Talking About This
A Novel
Patricia Lockwood
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