The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone
  • The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone
  • The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone
  • The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone
ISBN: 1250039576
EAN13: 9781250039576
Language: English
Release Date: Mar 1, 2016
Pages: 336
Dimensions: 1.11" H x 9.13" L x 6.57" W
Weight: 1.58 lbs.
Format: Hardcover
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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

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An expertly crafted work of reportage, memoir, and biography on the subject of loneliness told through the lives of six iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring. You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by thousands of strangers. The Lonely City is a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of gneiss, concrete, and glass.What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live if we're not intimately involved with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if our sexuality or physical body is considered deviant or damaged? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens?Olivia Laing explores these questions by traveling deep into the work and lives of some of the century's most original artists, among them Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Edward Hopper, Henry Darger, and Klaus Nomi. Part memoir, part biography, part dazzling work of cultural criticism, The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It's a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many--millions, say--of souls.

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Book Reviews (12)

  |   12  reviews
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   A must for lonely New Yorkers who have curiousity
In the writing, there is so much truth and depth. As someone who has not delved into the world of art history or criticism, I found my self completely intrigued by the artists spoken and amazed how unaware I was of most of them. I am impressed with the author's thinking and perspective on the brutality of loneliness. It is so darkly refreshing to know how many great minds suffer in this complexly cruel world and use that pain to create works of art. I too live in NY and am saddened and appalled by the changes in this once very interesting, artistic city that has become a playground for the very wealthy and lost so much in the process. I also can 't stop watching Klaus Nomi sing Lightning Strikes on YouTube.
   Buy This Book
I took a long time to get through this wonderful book, but I learned a lot about some artists I was ignorant of and more about artists I knew. She shows poignantly how tenderly art can help us when times are particularly hard. I liked that she did not idealize New York City.
   Why do we stigmatize loneliness?
One of those books that stays with the reader, infusing new interactions -- or lack thereof -- with daily awareness. Why is it easier to talk about depression than to admit to being lonely simply? Here Olivia Laing has written a masterwork, mixing memoir with biographies of artists whose odd personae is given new textures. As a bonus, Laing's chapters on the AIDS crisis are huge, capturing the terror of that time, the terrible cruelties that have been imposed on people with the disease.
   If there was an "art to bring alone" depicted in this book, I was too depressed to notice.
Yes, the author's comments on loneliness are often breathtaking. I felt, however, as if I were holding my breath, waiting for a reprieve from the desolation, the graphic word-images of the early HIV epidemic, drug use and stark sex. In a word, this is one of the most unrelentingly depressing books I have read in a long time.
   Dissector of the human arrangement
This book is a masterpiece! If you are an analyzer of the human condition, this book is one of those that will give you fodder to chew for weeks. Beautifully written, with a great depth of insight into the feeling of loneliness and from so many different perspectives. SO good : I am indebted to authors that can write life and dissect this exacting in prose. Ms. Laing, thank you for this book!
   Well Done, But Dark
Beautiful, evocative writing... Highly informative and both artful and accessible. It is very much a story and study of loneliness through art and artists, where understanding loneliness becomes understanding art becomes understanding people. Some of the stories are very distressing and horrifying, with depravity, abuse, sexual deviancyperversion, pornography, homosexuality and AIDS... with several pages of extreme animal cruelty. Times Square is still crowded with porn theaters, sex shops and rent-by-the-hour whoretels. Here is lonely presented as brokenness, neglect and illness that the society propagates with its desire for norms and ideals. This book is certainly a dive into the reality of shadows, where the shadows are often darkest in a city like New York.
   Perfect Pandemic Reading
Maskenfreiheit : I saw this word for the first time in Olivia Liang's essay collection. Liang is shrewd and observant, her writing is lyrical and the theme is well, topical.
   Great start, wouldn’t bother finishing
Started really interesting. Struggled to find the motivation to finish.
   Excellent Read
I particularly liked her accounts of Andy Warhol's life. Through the book, I learned a lot about him that I never knew. I had this experience myself and I think that the feelings are universal. I spent my breaks at work, immersed in this book and got through it quickly.
   strange fruit...
Olivia Laing has a talent for weaving her personal experience with art, culture and politics. She talks about loneliness - one of the most common ironies of modern life through the works and lives of American artists - Darger, Wojnarowicz, Darger, Nomi, Garbo, Solanas, Holliday, Warhol, Wojnarowicz, Wojnarowicz, Nomi, Garbo, Solanas, Holliday. I was not familiar with many of the artists she covers in this book, and it was a worthy effort to check them out in the surrounding political and cultural context of their loneliness and learn how each dealt with it through art and activism. The book ends with a deep understanding of the nature of modern loneliness, as personal, political and collective space in individuals and society, and the symbolisms of stitches and ducts against the gentrification of emotions.