Cover Image: No One Is Talking About This

No One Is Talking About This

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Member Reviews

Quite saddened to say that this was a huge disappointment. I loved Priestdaddy and enjoyed Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, so had been looking forward to Lockwood's fiction debut. So it's unfortunate that I didn't get much out of this and couldn't really see what the author was trying to achieve with the novel.

The first half of the book is made up of a LOT of "Weird Twitter" humour, which isn't even funny (to this reader) in an ironic or satirical way, and added very little to the plot. The second half of the book goes on to follow the protagonist navigating the world after the birth of her niece, who is born with birth defects. This half of the book is a complete parallel to the first, and is made up of tender moments in her niece's life.

Whilst parts for this resonated with me - particular those in the latter half of the book - it just didn't come together well as a whole. A shame, as I still love Lockwood's writing, but unfortunately No One Is Talking About This just fell flat for this reader.
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The Twitter Novel. I was really torn on the first half of this, and then the second half kicked in and, honestly, this book is incredible. I think it's going to be quite divisive, and I'm unsure how it'll land for people who aren't dialled into the portal every waking moment, but I loved it.
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Priestdaddy is a book I recommend to absolutely everyone. It remains, years after reading, one of my all time favourite books and one of those books by which I measure a person, depending on their response to it. I had high hopes for this book and I confess that right at the start I wasn't entirely sure whether I was going to enjoy it, or indeed, if I fully understood it. I got there, and after putting it down a couple of times and then coming back to it, I found my way into it and read the entirety of the rest in one sitting. You have to be patient with this but it pays dividends. Lockwood is a stellar writer, who does amazing things with language and gives you a glimpse into a world that you wouldn't otherwise see. Superb.
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Ooft. This book, that opens with such seemingly glib observations of the daily chug of online interactions and crowded, worrisome days of life where it feels that loom of apocalypse is ever present, morphs into something arresting, beautiful, heart-breaking and sobering.
It is a book of two halves. The first, with its wry, piercing observations of collective online mutterings and in jokes is interesting to read and utilises language in an almost mesmeric way, but having read the whole thing it feels now that the reader is being cleverly set up, lulled into that same sardonic head-space in which we LOL and Ahahaha and pile on each other for getting it wrong which means that when we come to part two, we cannot help be somewhat wrong-footed as we realise what the This is that No One Is Talking About.
Without spoilers, I found the second part of the book beautiful, confronting and at times difficult to read. It is threaded through with pain but also shows great beauty. Patricia Lockwood's writing is lyrical but spare and not only clever in its observations, but also magic in conveying feeling and space by using such unusual yet specific description.
I really enjoyed this book, despite (or maybe because of) it leaving me in tears and feeling a little tender and I can't wait to read more of Patricia Lockwood's writing.
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EVERYONE is talking about this on social media and I am overjoyed that it was more than worth the hype! Searing, ambiguous and oh-so relatable, it really made me look at how I use the so-called 'portal' and how it has any/ no bearing on my real life. I really loved this - thank you for the copy.
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This is basically a stream of consciousness of someone staring at their phone for the entire Trump administration and thinking about the memes and Twitter discourse they see. It's a little odd and worrying that I recognise all of the memes, even if the narrator gives you only a tiny clue like dictator staring directly at eclipse or 'gorilla'.

It makes me wonder if something like Ulysses and other nonsensical stream of consciousness books would have been a very different reading experience for people who were like part of, say, the London Bloomsbury literary group at the exact time it was published, so they knew all the veiled gossip it was referring to. But if you're not already "in the know" it makes no sense at all. Basically, I think people who are already immersed in and care about the phenomenon of internet culture will find this captivating, and it will make not a jot of sense to anyone else.
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Patricia Lockwood's first novel, though its first section is really more an expansion of her brilliant LRB article about the experience of life as mediated by the internet (or, as it's always known here, the portal). The new languages, concepts, anxieties that flash through, are everywhere and then forgotten, the hall of mirrors, the ideological contortions – "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." The things that are hilarious, and then suddenly unacceptable: "Every day their attention must turn, like the shine on a school of fish, all at once, towards a new person to hate. Sometimes the subject was a war criminal, but other times it was someone who made a heinous substitution in guacamole. It was not so much the hatred she was interested in as the swift attenuation, as if their collective blood had made a decision." Quoting excerpts really doesn't convey the effect, the way Lockwood captures that online sensation of a firehose to the face, while also choosing each word with a poet's precision, while also also being happy to collage that poetry from the most inglorious, tacky details of modern life.

So. Some of what's here is taken verbatim from the article. Some expands on it. Bits of it are, I'm fairly sure, not literally true of her own life (the narrator's father being a cop rather than a priest, say), but these are minor tweaks. Elsewhere, there's stuff where it almost seems beside the point to ask if it's true or not. Was Lockwood, like her narrator, first "raised [...] to a certain airy prominence" by posting the urgent question "Can a dog be twins?"? Is there really an irony-based aesthetic called 1776-core? Are sealing wax manicures a thing? All of this is plausible enough in our implausible world that it doesn't really matter. The narrative stops short of the Event, but I've read nothing which captures so well the sense, already well established by then, that the world has entirely stopped making sense. Over it all looms the shadow of Trump, never named, always 'the dictator' – and it's interesting to read an advance copy during this interstitial period, knowing that by the time it's properly released, either the sting of that alias will be drawn or else it will be even truer. The book gallops along at the pace of a doomscroll, yet feels so much more rewarding; I got approved for it on Netgalley after dinner, and had finished it before breakfast the next day, which is by far the quickest I've got through a 200-pager since lockdown. It has the urgency of a cult novel found at exactly the right age, in turn sparking the question of whether cult novels are even really a thing anymore in quite the same way.

Part of being a cult novel, of course, is that some people won't get it at all. It's the sort of recommendation which will garner outrage or polite evasion as often as reciprocal OMGs. And then, in the second section, it changes tack markedly. Whether this material is autobiographical, again I don't know, but here it's less that it doesn't matter, and more that looking it up would feel horribly intrusive. I can guarantee there will be at least one broadsheet review which dismisses the first section as a frippery, but talks about this as a sign of what Lockwood could do if she would only drop that silly internet business and write a proper novel. As you've probably gathered by this point, that's pretty much the opposite of my feelings. Not that the second section is bad – it's no Jay McInerney novel screeching to a halt and ending in a load of homespun nothing about baking. It's good, maybe very good. I laughed, I cried, I marvelled that a book which features a cat called Dr. Butthole could also include the pure Arthur Machen line "The doors of bland suburban houses now looked possible, outlined, pulsing – for behind any one of them could be hidden a bright and private glory." But fundamentally, people have been having babies and writing about babies and talking about the great flowering of love and possibility they bring for millennia, and where did all that love and possibility (and writing about same) get us? Here, that's where. Whereas a great writer who genuinely gets that "Myspace was an entire life [...] and it is lost, lost, lost, lost!" – while also being fully aware of how ridiculous that sounds – that's a writer with something new to say, something that might conceivably even help us disentangle this mess. Lockwood isn't far off when she has her narrator acknowledge that "all writing about the portal so far had a strong whiff of old white intellectuals being weird about the blues, with possible boner involvement. Sixty-year-old cartoonists had also tried to contend with the issue, but the best they could do was sad doodles of a person with a Phone for a Face who was scrolling through like a tiny little Face in his Hand." Well, not anymore. Despite my reservations about its second section, this is a staggeringly good book, and I feel very lucky to have got to read it ahead of time, especially since I remain unconvinced what's left of the world will even make it as far as February.
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No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood is about online life and the internet and real life and love and loss.
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Compelling surprising and very very original I really enjoyed this book. As something of a serial twitter ranter and inter-ranter I found myself laughing out loud at some of the observations. very good indeed
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A hypnotic debut from Patricia Lockwood. Clearly inspired by her zany poetry, here she has captured the strange nuance of online and offline life and entwined them together in a conflicting and beautiful masterpiece. 'No One Is Talking About This' had me gripped, laughing at the beginning and crying at the end, quietly, unknowingly, unexpectedly. Raw and hilarious and real. A fantastic debut.
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