First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman known for her viral social media posts travels the world speaking to her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts. When existential threats – from climate change to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness – begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal’s void. “Are we in hell?” the people of the portal ask themselves. “Are we all just going to keep dong this till we die?”
Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: “Something has gone wrong,” and “How soon can you get there?” As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof that there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary. No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection.
Yes, it is time for the weekend! Happy Friday everyone. I hope you all had a great week and that you are ending it on a high note. With the year slowly drawing to a close, I hope you all reap the fruits of all that you’ve worked hard for this past year. I hope you get repaid, 10 times, 100 times more. I pray that your prayers get answered. I also hope that you are all happy and are all doing great, physically, and mentally. With 2022 just around the corner, I fervently pray for this pandemic to end soon. It has caused too much damage already but I know, hope still springs eternal.
Before closing out the work week, let me discuss first my current read through this First Impression Friday update. As I have previously mentioned, I have transitioned to reading “new” books. For a reader that is mostly the backlist time, reading “new” books have become a feature of my annual reading journey. I have been making great strides and this year is no different. Currently, I am reading Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This. I think I might have encountered the book earlier this year while I was searching for books to include in my 2021 Books I Look Forward To List. But with the number of interesting books that captured my attention, the book was cut-off from my list.
I would later on encounter the book again, in the bookstore. However, I was still apprehensive about buying it. I finally got over my apprehension when I learned the book was longlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The winner was announced yesterday and, unfortunately, it was not No One Is Talking About This. The book does still have a chance to bring more accolade as it was also longlisted for the prestigious 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction. After Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, this is my second book from the longlist. I am actually looking forward to the book after encountering several glowing reviews on it. This is also my first Lockwood novel so I am a bit curious about what she has to offer.
I just started reading the novel this evening and I haven’t gone that far yet. The first few paragraphs are very random. I guess this was one of the manifestations of what the synopsis meant as genre-bending (David Mitchell’s works comes to mind). I also got to meet the primary character, an anonymous woman who became an internet sensation because of one curious post. Her viral post: “Can a dog be twins?” I haven’t been able to dig more in to her profile to conclude whether this was an innocent question or a random one. Nevertheless, it did underline what I believe is one of the leitmotifs – the seminal role that internet and social media play in our lives.
More importantly, I think the novel dwells on how the internet and social media have both inevitably altered our lives. I surmise that the novel relies on its powerful and insightful perspective on what we have become and where we are all headed for vis-à-vis internet and social media. Even the novel’s structure – of short and mixed paragraphs – is an homage to the quick-pace our lives have started to adapt to. I think that the synopsis was offering too much information as it did mention about empathy and goodness, and even justice. With the novel palpably exploring social media and other contemporary concerns, these are discourses that are, I guess, unavoidable. It is interesting how Lockwood works this subject for I have strong reasons to believe it was one of the drivers for her nomination for the Booker Prize.
I do get a sense that the novel borrows elements of satire (or parody even) in weaving its message. I am also given to understand that the novel explored timely concerns. By making the main character anonymous, Lockwood is reminding her readers that she could be anyone. At least that is what I think. l It is for these reasons that I am very excited to know how the story develops. How about you fellow reader? What book are you reading into the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy it. For now, happy weekend!