What did it mean” thinks the Twitter addict protagonist of Patricia Lockwood’s début novel as she describes waking up in the firm of her telephone every morning “under an avalanche of particulars, blissed pictures of breakfasts in Patagonia,..ghostly pale ladies publishing photos of their bruises”.
What did it indicate “that she was authorized to see this?”
What in fact? What does it imply to spend so considerably of your existence in the organization of the internet’s “communal mind” that your partner tells you “you have a thoroughly lifeless appear on your face” as you engage in a furious twitter spat with a entire stranger?
Harm emotions, thinks the protagonist. “He was often indicating things like this just when she was at her most alive.” She begs him to invest in her a risk-free disguised as a dictionary so she can lock absent her cellular phone. Two times later on she is screaming at him for the code.
Lockwood – if you really don’t know her title you are just about absolutely not on Twitter – has been detonating some of the big issues bordering connectivity and authenticity thrown up by our ever more digitised lives since writing an essay two decades in the past titled How Do We Write Now?
She’s an extravagantly gifted writer who, maybe extra than any person else, has taken possession of Twitter as a literary art type (examine out her unnerving sext parodies if you haven’t presently). She’s also a poet (her harrowing 2013 poem Rape Joke went viral) and the writer of an acclaimed memoir, Priestdaddy. “I’m not a novelist” she mentioned in an job interview to boost that e book. Which begs the question of just what she is up to listed here.
Composed in the frantic, scattershot voice of its protagonist, No Just one Is Conversing About This mimics the plotless, performative insouciance of a Twitter feed, which is to say it fizzes with the over-stimulated aphoristic wit that has designed Lockwood the darling of Twitter.
It’s a filthy, funny, strung-out prose poem that aims to seize exactly how we think and discuss on line and what that may well necessarily mean, and it is frequently both stingingly precise and weirdly stunning. “She experienced to have some say in what happened, even if it was only WHAT?”
Lockwood’s fictional avatar writes, on her compulsive participation in the collective dialogue. “My mobile phone tells me I have a new memory,” she observes bleakly, extra than the moment. The election of Trump, referred to as the Dictator, is a “Gatsby was dead in the pool” moment.
Lockwood’s hyperactive self recognition – there is nothing at all you can toss at her that she won’t have already considered – provides her crafting a wired, questioning restlessness that often bends back on by itself. Anything is a massive joke even when it’s not. This can turn out to be exhausting.
For all Lockwood’s higher wire mixing of numerous tonal registers, the inconsequential vitality of her prose also pitfalls the similar likely obsolescence as any tweet in a feed – if one paragraph/article doesn’t immediately hit residence then why, you can basically scroll on to the up coming.
But slowly but surely she builds up a horrified portrait of a collective consciousness straining for relationship while simultaneously consuming itself. “Every working day their notice need to convert,” she writes, “like the shine on a college of fish, all at after, towards a new individual to detest. Sometimes the matter was a war criminal, but other situations it was an individual who produced a heinous substitution in guacamole. It was not so considerably the hatred she was interested in as the swift attenuation, as if their collective blood had created a decision.”
Points improve abruptly 50 percent-way as a result of when the narrator’s sister results in being pregnant, and the toddler is learned to have a everyday living threatening issue. There is no area for “mad grief” on Twitter and so Lockwood ditches the irony and turns in its place to a a lot more typical novelistic psychological sign-up that captures with exquisite grace and truth of the matter the impression of this on her sister, her loved ones, herself.
It’s an abrupt about-flip from the preposterous to the elegant, from the unserious to the really serious and, in the framework of the ebook, a little bit of a cop out. If just one of the fundamental issues in this book is how do we generate very seriously about ourselves in the age of Twitter, then Lockwood’s possess respond to would appear to be to be: at the conclusion of the day in the same way we have normally performed.
No 1 Is Speaking About This by Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury, £14.99)