Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Opposite of Loneliness

It is hard, actually damn near impossible, to read this collection of work without feeling a sense of loss, or for your mind to bring up ghosts of your own past. Ghosts of classmates, friends, and acquaintances who you not only recall for their smiling faces or quiet personalities, but because they died long ago when they were just as young as Marina Keegan (if not younger), without the opportunity to really display their talents to the world. While they did not have the opportunity, Ms. Keegan did (after death) have her talent displayed; how lucky are we, those who continue on, that we get to carry with us the impressions the young-who-have-been-lost and in that way, their talents live on.

This collection is of Keegan's work, which ranges from fiction to non-fiction. If I have come to understand Marina Keegan, based on the articles I've read and the well written introduction of this book, it's that she had a lot more written material that didn't even appear in this publication. Still, her talent shows through these pages like a beacon. I found myself going, "Yes, yes, yes!" as I read her words, "I understand that! I've experienced that! I want an endless parade of gluten-filled foods before I die as well!" but just as quickly it was followed by, "No, no, no" and "How can writing that seems so alive be written by a girl who is no longer here?"

And that's the thing – her writing is alive and in that she lives. For someone so young, she had an enormous amount of talent and amongst all the other feelings I felt, I often was startled by how clearly she could describe all emotions and senses. She understood life in ways many people twice her age are still striving to handle.

When I approached this book, I was interested in her story – a girl who was published after she died – and I was determined to not allow that fact to sway my opinion. It hasn't swayed my opinion, not entirely, because I know some of my swaying emotions were caused because I kept thinking, "She was so young, she was so talented," but that's the fact: she was so talented.

So much of her work seemed to whisper of death, whisper of hopes to live on and it is a coincidence now that she is no longer here. But she did live on, she was young and she had so much to do with this thing called life, but in a way she's doing it all.

Above all, I'm thankful that her parents printed these pieces of work. I can't imagine how painful it is to lose a child and I'm sure that pain continued while going through her hard work. Thanks to their decision, I've had a chance to remind myself of my younger self who wanted to be the best writer I could be, and of friends who have passed on when they were so young. It reminded me of life, in general, and how easily it leaves you, but above all, you can continue existing in one way or another.

Last Week's Review: Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
Next Week's Review: True Refuge by Tara Brach

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