Novel of the week: No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
A novel about the ‘studied vacuity’ of the internet by the ‘poet laureate of Twitter’
Patricia Lockwood is a young American poet and memoirist whose elegantly witty tweets – “@ParisReview So is Paris any good or not” – have earned her the moniker “poet laureate of Twitter”, said Johanna Thomas-Corr in the New Statesman. Now she has produced the “best novel I have read about the internet”. In its first half, we are taken “inside the head” of a woman who leads a very online existence: she posts incessantly on the “portal” (the novel’s word for the internet), and travels the world speaking about digital culture. But half way through, she is “wrenched out” of this by the news that her sister’s baby has a rare congenital condition. This turns what might have become an “in-joke for media liberals” into a deeper story.
To me, this irruption of real-life tragedy felt like a “sentimental device”, said Sarah Ditum in The Times. The baby is a “visitation from a wiser sphere”, who “fortuitously resets the narrator’s dysfunctional relationship with the internet”. It’s a bit contrived. The book is strongest when it focuses on Lockwood’s home territory: the “studied vacuity” of the “portal”.
Bloomsbury Circus 224pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99
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