Life in and Out of the Portal: A Book Review of No One is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood

Jenny Justice

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A Girl With Glasses Book Review

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood arrived in my mailbox on Tuesday, February 16th. I finished it in an hour. I could not put it down. I could not look away. And I cannot recommend this book enough.

I have loved Patricia Lockwood since discovering her poetry a few years back and being so grabbed by it, grabbed by the raw realness of her voice, and by the many ways that she connected with the voice in my own head so much of the time. Lockwood writes how I wish I could write, if only I could get the stuff in my mind to translate perfectly to the page or screen.

No One is Talking About This is a brilliant analysis of what it means to be a human now, a human online and a human in real life, a human in and out of the portal and in all of the spaces in between. I found myself taking pictures of passages in the book because the sentences were so pure, so perfect, and so powerfully true and insightful. Lockwood describes our life online in ways that hold up a mirror and you might not like what is reflected back, but you know it is the real deal.

I found myself laughing, cheering, crying and very much involved in this book, especially the first half. The second half was, as some have mentioned, like an entirely different book. We are not in the portal as much, we are not talking about memes or our new strange ironic and cynical sense of humor. We are in a real situation in real life that is influenced via, seen via, and conceptualized via the lens we have learned to see everything with - what is everyone talking about? What is in? What is trending? What is going viral?

The title of the book comes from one of Lockwood’s strikingly beautiful passages in describing the narrator’s niece, born with Proteus Syndrome and not long for this world, but a source of joy, hope, delight, depth and life. Part two of the book focuses on sisterhood, family, the meaning of being human, grief and escaping the world of portal things in a way that feels like freedom.

Parts one and two combine just sometimes to show us just how much being ‘in the portal’ has cost us, and how much life might exist outside of a nonstop bombardment of threads and memes. I cried at the end, fair warning and now I am at a loss for what book to read next. I am more aware of myself in the portal aka social media aka Facebook. I have always had this knowledge - this space where we get one of our main sources of community and validation is also the same space where we get one of our main sources of addiction and isolation.

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All I know is that as I was reading this book, and now, and maybe for always, all thatI wanted to do was talk about it with someone. Not just virtually but real. I wanted someone next to me on my couch reading over my shoulder and experiencing this book with me. I suppose all of this will have to wait until after we are released from the grips of this pandemic, but I do plan on reading it again with others. It is just that kind of book.

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Jenny Justice is a poet, writer, mother and teacher. She is just a girl in the world, new to town and learning to love this city - Reno, NV. She writes about all things local from food, to fun, to what you need to know to have a good day, good week, or good time in The Biggest Little City. Jenny loves books and will encourage that love of books with her book reviews. She also writes about relationships, dating, parenting, and other topics when the muse moves her. Follow her for good food, good books, and good fun especially in the Biggest Little City in the world.

Reno, NV
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