Cover Image: No One Is Talking About This

No One Is Talking About This

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I'm totally taken with this upcoming debut novel. It's genre-defying (my favourite!) and entirely original from both a storyline and stylistic point of view. 

It's split into two emotionally juxtaposed parts; ready yourself for some laughs in part one, but more importantly, hold yourself tight for the emotional rollercoaster that is part two. I, for one, did not see it coming. There should definitely be some content warnings to this book, and although I don't want to reveal too much, I feel compelled to say that if you're pregnant, give this book a miss. 

Having attracted some social media following with her silly and hilarious posts, a woman in her early 30s gets invited to speak around the world and meet her fans. She lives and breathes "the portal", what she calls the Internet, and jumps from one image, piece of news, a joke or an issue to another on a 24/7 loop. In other words, Lockwood describes our social existence today. She captures all that we experience on an hourly basis through descriptions of memes, cultural and political references in a narrative that reads like an endless social media feed. Part one is fast-paced, and definitely gets tiresome, which I think was the point. And of course, there is no plot. In the words of the author: 

"The plot! That was a laugh. The plot was that she sat motionless in her chair, willing herself to stand up and take the next shower in a series of near-infinite showers, wash all the things that made her herself, all the things that just kept coming, all the things that would just keep coming, until one day they stopped so violently on the sidewalk that the plot tripped over them, stumbled, and lurched forward one more innocent inch". 

In part two, our protagonist spends time with her sister while she's going through some pregnancy complications, and during the first months of her niece's life. Forced to break with life-as-she-knew-it, she gets to see the world from a different perspective which both condemns our modern existence and gives out hope for she witnesses what human connection truly means. 

Despite the fact it's written in a fragmentary fashion with nameless protagonists, I felt oddly connected to the heroine. The author's unique style of writing and observant remarks are almost definitely responsible for that connection. I was not surprised to learn that Patricia Lockwood is a poet. She already has a book of poetry and a memoir published, which I'm almost certainly going to seek out next. If you're looking for something new that doesn't follow a formal structure, I highly recommend this. It's a fresh, new voice that I'm very excited about.  

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for my advanced digital copy.
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Thanks to Bloomsbury for gifting me a proof of No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood. This is in many ways the great internet novel: told in episodic, often unconnected fragments, it follows an unnamed protagonist immersed in the 'portal', and the ludicrous realities that existing on the internet can create. I found Patricia Lockwood's dissection of internet culture to be clever, witty and very well-constructed, and the vignette format worked well in slowly building up a sense of purpose. The second half is quite different:  immersive and uplifting. She also writes with incredible poetry, using metaphors that really shouldn't work but somehow do. This is all praise, and I do think the uniqueness of this book does deserve praise - but I never really connected with No One is Talking About This, and it certainly didn't leave me with the shining feeling that other similarly experimental books like Little Scratch have done. 3.5 🌟 maybe?
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I got No One Is Talking About This  by Patricia Lockwood from Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

A woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans, her entire existence overwhelmed by the internet – or what she terms 'the portal'. 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 increasing absurdity of the portal,

This is one of those novels which will divide opinion, as I can see what the writer is trying to do with this book but I am not sure that she is an entity successful.

Firstly the whole novel is a rambling manifesto on the internet and in particular, social media, in addition to the last few years of American Politics, which sort of makes it a little hard to follow.   

This, difficult to follow, is an issue, with the book as it seems to meander from one subject to the next, in a very disjointed way. Though when you get into the second half of the book the story seems to knit together and become an emotional story.

In conclusion, when I finished the book at first it was one of those books that i really did not like. However after thinking about the story I have come to release that it is better than i first thought.

So if you are into books that make you think then you should read No One Is Talking About This,  by Patricia Lockwood.
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Well, let's get the obvious thing out of the way first, with a quote:

"All writing about the [internet] 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."

It's a brave thing to put in your novel, and Lockwood gets away with it because, thankfully, the internet-ness of her novel is great. It is critical but loving, and could only be written by someone who lives online, like how you're the only one who can mock your sister. I wonder how it will read when the references have dated a little - there is so little explanation of some of them that the nuances may not age well. I don't think that's a problem, honestly: it's a novel for now, which is when you should read it.

The more plotted part of the novel is quite a different beast. I don't find it jarring, because a life contains many elements, and the writing in this part of the novel is gorgeous. Writing about the internet in an original way is one thing; writing about love in an original way is quite another. I immediately followed the Patricia Lockwood on Twitter, and I can't give higher praise than that.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC.
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No One is Talking About This is not an easy read in more than one sense. 
I did not know beforehand that the author, Patricia Lockwood, is a renowned Twitter poet and essayist but becomes clear when starting to read this book.
It is disjointed, jumping for place to place, thought to thought, in paragraphs just around Twitter length or bites that people on social media are capable of consuming before moving on. The poetic words and ideas incorporated in each paragraph, however, do not make it easy for your brain to swipe past - each needs to be digested and so time needs to be taken.
In the novel the internet is called the portal and it pervades everything. Trump is only every referred to as the dictator and his rise is blamed on social media's ability to radicalise. Only towards the end does the novel become anything like a narrative, with a sister giving birth to a disabled child and then having to arrange its funeral. Even with this tragic event treasured cut locks of hair are compared to a gif of the Grinch's hair and how we deal with death in the internet age is highlighted, where memorialising keeps the past as an online notification "You have a new memory"...
A book to start a book group conversation about the pro's and con's of social media
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Some books are just not for everyone, and I have to admit I was not able to finish this one as I just couldn't connect and found the plot confusing. I therefore can't really give a fair review other than to say it will no doubt be loved by some, and confusing for others like me, who are not really aficionados of social media and where it all might lead.
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Unlike most of the other reviewers I’ve encountered, I wasn’t a massive fan of Lockwood’s Priestdaddy (which I considered to be too desperately exaggerated to be funny), but I found her writing interesting enough to want to read her other work.

The first half of this novel, which I did enjoy, is an almost word-for-word copy of an essay that Lockwood wrote for the LRB and also presented as a talk (which is actually mentioned at the end of the novel). I wasn’t aware of this until I had finished that section of the book, but now I’m of the opinion that this writing does actually work better in essay form. It is reminiscent of a similar essay in Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino and also the standalone essay Radical Attention by Julia Bell, both of which I would also recommend. 

Your enjoyment of this section is largely based upon how Online you are. If Online to you means checking Twitter every few days, then you probably won’t get much out of it. Lockwood’s seemingly endless stream of references to specific viral tweets and memes was very entertaining to someone like myself who has spent far too much time on social media. Frankly, if you gave this novel to someone who doesn’t have a Twitter account then they would be utterly lost.

The second half of the novel is more plot-driven, following the protagonist’s retreat from life online to help look after her sister’s disabled baby, and her realisation that the way she was previously filling her hours scrolling was meaningless in comparison. 

Overall, I preferred this novel to Priestdaddy, which I felt to be a novel dressed up as a memoir. No One is Talking About This seems to be the opposite, at least the first half in its personal essay format. Perhaps Lockwood purposely rejects this kind of classification. Anyway, this was a witty evisceration of Online culture, and I hope it finds its audience.
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Not for me - I wanted to love it, but it didn’t quite grip me as I’d have hoped. I have certain friends who I know will love it, it’s not a BAD book, but it is not the book for me.
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This starts as an archly written look at the way we live our lives on the internet (referred to here as the portal), as the main character lives out her days through memes and tweets and the collective online reactions to world events. This in itself was impressive enough - the author manages to present the themes and ideas we are all intimately familiar with in a new light, and gently holds up a mirror to our own endless scrolling without sounding remotely judgemental. But when the main character's life is completely upended by a situation within her family, the world of the portal fades away as she finds meaning and purpose in the physical world. I know this review sounds really abstract, but I'm reluctant to say too much as I think a lot of the beauty of this book is in watching it unfold. It's gorgeously yet sparingly written, and will stay with you.
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When i saw the synopsis for this book i thought it was a really interesting premise and thankyou to Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this book. However i had to dnf this book at 20% because i was just too confused about what was going on. Because there was not one continuous plot my brain just could not process what was going on and i had to stop reading.
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What can I say about this Book other than it actually gave me a Headache while reading it & I found it very confusing ! #<img src="" width="80" height="80" alt="Professional Reader" title="Professional Reader"/>, #<img src="" width="80" height="80" alt="Reviews Published" title="Reviews Published"/>, #<img src="" width="80" height="80" alt="50 Book Reviews" title="50 Book Reviews"/>,# FB, #Instagram, #NetGalley, # Goodreads, #
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There was much to enjoy here, but I found I couldn't connect with it. I'd read more from this author in the future though.
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I was a huge fan of Patricia Lockwood's memoir Priestdaddy, a book I have recommended to many people. A couple of years ago, I heard her speak at an event in Dublin with Sally Rooney and thought she was hilarious. So I was eager to get stuck into her debut novel, especially when I heard that it addressed internet culture, a topic she clearly knows a lot about.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first, the protagonist has achieved fame via a viral post that reads: "Can a dog be twins?". She travels the world on the back of this and other humorous tweets, speaking about the internet (or "the portal" as she refers to it) on panels and at conferences. In the second part, the woman is urged to return to her family home, where her sister is experiencing pregnancy complications.

The first half may test the reader's patience. How much you get out of it probably depends on how internet savvy you are. There are a lot in-jokes and references to popular memes. As an avid Twitter user myself, I found it funny and clever, though perhaps there was a lack of heft to this part of the novel. It's more like a collection of witty observations about social media, such as the sheer absurdity of it all:
"As she began to type, “Enormous fatberg made of grease, wet wipes, and condoms is terrorizing London’s sewers,” her hands began to waver in their outlines and she had to rock the crown of her head against the cool wall, back and forth, back and forth. What, in place of these sentences, marched in the brains of previous generations? Folk rhymes about planting turnips, she guessed."

Or how the Twitter mob decides on its next victim:
"Every day their attention must turn, like the shine on a school of fish, all at once, toward 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."

Or how addictive the Internet can become:
"When she was away from it, it was not just like being away from a body, but a warm body that wanted her. The way, when she was gone from it, she thought so longingly of My information. Oh, my answers. Oh, my everything I never knew I needed to know.

Everything changes in the second part. The family heartache that befalls the protagonist gives the story an emotional core. It causes her to reexamine her life. However, while she begins to grasp the insignificance of the internet in the grand scheme of things, silly Twitter jokes are still sent between the narrator and her sister as a way of coping with their situation. It's OK for both worlds to co-exist, Lockwood seems to be saying. Without giving too much away, I found the second half of the story incredibly moving. Lockwood writes so beautifully about the main character's love for her little niece and the world she is so eager for her to experience:

"The things she wanted the baby to know seemed small, so small. How it felt to go to a grocery store on vacation; to wake at three a.m. and run your whole life through your fingertips; first library card; new lipstick; a toe going numb for two months because you wore borrowed shoes to a friend’s wedding; Thursday; October; “She’s Like the Wind” in a dentist’s office; driver’s license picture where you look like a killer; getting your bathing suit back on after you go to the bathroom; touching a cymbal for sound and then touching it again for silence; playing house in the refrigerator box; letting a match burn down to the fingerprints; one hand in the Scrabble bag and then I I I O U E A; eyes racing to the end of Villette (skip the parts about the crétin, sweetheart), hamburger wrappers on a road trip; the twist of a heavy red apple in an orchard; word on the tip of the tongue; the portal, but just for a minute."

If I do have some slight reservations about the book, it's with the first half. The nature of its fragmented commentary on social media may put some readers off and it's possible the cultural references contained within will date rapidly. But the devastating second half elevates the story into something profound, putting the protagonist's earlier carefree existence and trivial concerns into context. I experienced lots of emotions reading this book: it made me laugh, it brought a tear to my eye, and it made me grateful that we have writers as poetic and incisive as Patricia Lockwood, who can make sense of this modern world and all its madness.
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This novel was not at all what I expected - it begins with experimental, playful musings on the protagonists' life on the internet, much of which I recognised from Lockwood's LRB winter lecture a few years back. I enjoyed this part, but I particularly was blown away by the latter half of the novel, in which a family crisis destabilises the lives of the protagonist and her loved ones, completely reconfiguring her relationship with technology and social media in bizarre, unpredictable ways. This is such a strange, singular novel that it is hard to do justice in any review, but I will certainly be recommending it to everyone I know this year!
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Oh my god, this book is just excellent. You read it and recognise yourself in parts if you are Online and the pings of recognising memes/internet news immediately involve you. And then Part Two kicks in. And it continues to be excellent. I cried through the last 25pp and it was incredible.
The author does an incredible job of entertaining, bringing you in, shining light on society and yet, yet, not making the protagonist hated or evil or even stupid and instead personable and inviting. Highly recommended.
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For me, the novel was rather baffling/incomprehensible and I found myself searching for a narrative that just wasn't there. The second half has more of a narrative feel but I just couldn't get into this style. I see from the other reviews that I'm in a complete minority here so not sure if I needed to be in a different frame of mind, but I'm sorry to say I struggled with this.
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I'm sorry to say this just wasn't for me - I could appreciate why others liked it but it was too abstract and impossible to get into for my taste.
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No One Is Talking About This is a quirky post-modern novel about internet culture and human connection.

Lockwood's trip down the rabbit hole of 'the portal' is an irreverent exploration of our changing language, humour and self-perception. It's hypnotic and disorientating, the kind of stream-of-consciousness prose which rarely lets you catch your breath.

But it's not all fun and memes: without giving away any spoilers, the novel takes a sudden gear-change halfway through, and the second half is full of emotion and empathy. It's the juxtaposition between heartbreak and hilarity, emotionally-stunted humour and real human connection which makes this such a poignant read.

Poetic and chaotic in equal measures, No One Is Talking About This is a fun and wryly intelligent post-modern novel.
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I found this to be totally incomprehensible. I could not detect any story in it at all and skimmed most of it, looking for something I could get a meaning from. The author is obviously quite popular judging by the other reviews but this is too random for me.
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I can't quite articulate how I feel about No One Is Talking About This. 
I didn't expect to come out of it feeling as strongly as I do - the first half of the book doesn't really go anywhere, in terms of plot or character, but it propels you along just like when you read the much-referred-to "portal" all the same. Possibly because of this subject matter, I found myself reminded of Jarett Kobek's works - although this is less acidic, and more poetic. 
As expected from Patricia Lockwood, this book is gorgeously written, but for this first half, I felt as though there wasn't anything keeping me emotionally tied to the plot. The second half, in contrast, is suffused with feeling - its depiction of grief was really resonant and moving. 
I found myself underlining great swathes of this, and I'm certain I'm going to be thinking about it for a long time.
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