The Lonely Stories: 22 Celebrated Writers on the Joys & Struggles of Being Alone

Edited by Natalie Eve Garrett. Catapult, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-948226-60-8

Solitude gets the spotlight in this illuminating anthology, brought together by writer Garrett (Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers). In “At the Horizon,” Maggie Shipstead isolates herself in order to write a novel; while spending eight months alone on Nantucket, she wonders whether she is turning solitude into contentment or armor. In “Letting Go,” Maya Shanbhag Lang recounts the loneliness she felt after taking in her mother, who was suffering from dementia, while Emily Raboteau writes in “Exodus, 2020” of the “particular loneliness” wrought by the pandemic in New York City, astutely pointing out that “there are many ways to be lonely. Even in a crowd.” Megan Giddings describes in “Brief Important Moments Where I Was the Only Person on Earth” instances of joy that can be found solo, like being the only person in a movie theater. In bringing together the wide range of perspectives, Garrett has made a subject often feared into something uplifting: “While loneliness can be devastating, I find it deeply moving that it can also function as a portal to beauty and discovery,” she writes in the introduction. Fans of the personal essay will want to check this out. Agent: Jody Kahn, Brandt & Hochman. (Apr.)
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