Memes, shared grief and overwhelmingly online culture make ‘Nobody Talks About This’ a great modern read [Unscripted] | Entertainment


Normally, when I’m trying to pick out a new book to read, I just look on my shelves to see the latest Book of the Month Club book that I haven’t read — I’m looking at you, “Crying in H Mart” in Japanese Breakfast singer Michelle Zauner.

But, in one of my recent endeavors for Pocket Books, an independent bookstore that recently opened in Lancaster, I grabbed a book I had on my to-read list: “Nobody Talks About This” by Patricia Lockwood.

Its cover is discreet. I mainly chose it because the New York Times listed it as one of their favorite books of 2021. The only thing I knew about it before reading it was that it was written with the same feed as a Twitter feed.

As someone who spends a lot of time on Twitter, I found the concept interesting. I immediately had flashbacks to “Zola,” the movie inspired by a Twitter thread about how a woman and her friend had a bizarre, almost unbelievable falling out.

After finishing “The Office of Historical Corrections” by Danielle Evans, a nagging feeling told me to pick up “No One Is Talking About This”.

This is a book that is hard to stop reading once you start. It’s about an unnamed protagonist who spends too much time online, to the point where her thoughts and feelings come out in short bursts of meme-filled paragraphs. He sums up and laughs at the idea of ​​being extremely online, or online so often that’s what takes up a lot of his head space.

Lockwood’s paragraphs flow like rude social media posts from your friends, with reflections on the world and commentary on current events that will likely make this book confusing in about 10 years. All the paragraphs are cohesive and make sense, but they’re all written with such nonsense that most of the time all I could think was, “Yeah, I guess that’s a way of saying it.”

Topics change frequently, although you learn a few things on the spot. (For those who don’t want spoilers, now is a good time to stop reading).

The protagonist became very famous thanks to a tweet that simply read “Can a dog be twins?” She traveled to places and toured, becoming something of a cultural icon after that tweet. Later, you find out that Lockwood had a similar spike in popularity. She tweeted the account of the literary magazine @ParisReview, saying “So is Paris good or not”, which went viral.

Among the memes and pop culture observations, the reader begins to piece together a few elements among the chaos of memes and social commentary, though the elements fade into the background. The protagonist desperately wants to be less connected to internet culture, but she keeps getting caught up in the latest trends. She is also relatively unhappy with her social relationships in real life.

And his sister is pregnant, which becomes more important in the latter half of the book.

It minimizes these aspects and puts them in the background, much like minimizing a tab. If you can’t see the problems, they’re not happening.

The second part of the book takes another turn. Her sister’s unborn child has some birth defects, and they don’t know how long the baby will live. Her niece was diagnosed with Proteus Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes overgrowth of bones, tissues and skin. The most well-known person with this condition is Joseph Merrick, who was the inspiration behind the 1980 film “The Elephant Man”.

The flow of the book slows down, focusing more on the present rather than what’s happening on social media. The protagonist only uses Internet memes and jokes to react or deal with the serious situation unfolding in front of her. She tries to enjoy her time with her niece, as they don’t know which day will be her last. He abandons the absurd tone for one of hope, even in the darkest places.

All the while, the book presents itself as fiction, though later on you’ll find it’s heavily inspired by Lockwood’s own life. All characters, most of which are unnamed, are real. Realization comes like a punch in the stomach.

What’s really important to me about Nobody Talks About This is the concept that people have multi-faceted lives. We all have individual grief as well as shared grief. We can be completely immersed in something while other life-changing things are happening in the background.

Although this book sometimes seems exaggerated, with its sometimes funny commentary, it is not unrealistic. It’s easy to get swept up in trends and politics that sometimes it’s better to focus more on memes than on some of today’s most traumatic world events. Sometimes it’s even easier than dealing with what’s going on in your personal life.

This book might not make sense in 10 years. It’s not the next great American novel – but it was one of those books that came into my hands at just the right time.

And, sometimes, those are the best reads.


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