The first part of Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This reveals a rather highly-strung woman who writes for, and immerses herself in, the internet and social media. The writing takes the form of a series of surreal tweets.
The writing is poetic in tone, and makes some interesting points about the nature of the internet – the way it loves to judge, simplify, divide, mislead. I liked the line about a woman joining social media to see pictures of her grandson, and ending up believing in a flat Earth. The book is good at sketching in the grey that actually exists beyond all the social media black and white.
Then in the second part of the book, due to draconian Ohio abortion laws, the narrator is forced to give birth to a cruelly disabled child. The Ohio governor and his supporters are enthusiastic about the sanctity of human life. When it comes to giving support to said sanctified life after it’s born, then Ohio governor and friends are not nearly so interested. Yet the new mother does love the baby, despite the suffering of the child and of those who care for it. So more grey areas, all still presented in tweet form.
The two halves of the story seem to come together in the baby’s situation, which involves a condition where the brain cannot make connections. The suggestion seems to be, in the end, that people are happiest when they make connections. The internet, for all its faults, for all the divisions it can open up, is primarily an evolution of the human need to connect.
I don’t know if I enjoyed this book. The second half is harsh and upsetting, so much so that I could barely continue reading. It would also take someone more internet-savvy than me to get all the references and in-jokes. Even so I found No One Is Talking About This interesting and timely, making me feel that sharing a review on the internet about it was a worthwhile undertaking.