Author: Marina Keegan
Essays and Stories
At twenty two years old, 5 days after graduating from Yale, the bright future of Marina Keegan ended in a tragic car accident. Marina left behind a legacy of prose, poetry and essays that startle and tingle with the audacity of intelligence, wit and a talent that we, as readers, lost. Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English, and a well known critic and writer says this about his student Marina:
“I will never cease mourning the loss of my beloved former student Marina Keegan. This book gives partial evidence of the extraordinary promise that departed with her. Throughout she manifests authentic dramatic invention and narrative skill.”
And I agree. Although some pieces are unfinished and unedited, the short stories left me gasping with Keegan’s talent – I thought of a young Alice Munro. Her prose essay for the Yale Daily News, The Opposite of Loneliness, received 1.4 million hits on the internet, and speaks of the passion Keegan had for community and the bright future that she and other students must pursue. It tantalizes with vibrancy and talent and courage.
The short story, Hail, Full of Grace, centers on a young woman, Audrey, who has a five month old adopted baby, Emma. Emma is to be the back up baby in the Christmas pageant at the Unitarian Universalist Christmas pageant in Cambridge, Massachusetts: Audrey is doing a favor for her friend Jared who has asked her to help in the pageant, as they need two babies for the infant Jesus in the manger. As she stands and watches, holding Emma, Audrey contemplates her last relationship with the love of her life, Julian. Julian is now married with three children, but Audrey, unmarried, cannot let him go. Has she done the right thing adopting a baby as a single mother? She has never gotten over Julian and when she runs into him in a Cambridge grocery store Audrey invites Julian to the pageant and wonders why she has done so. For in their past, Audrey and Julian given their baby girl up for adoption and the relationship withered and died. Is Emma a replacement or can Audrey release the past and embrace this child, this baby, now, in the present.
The story, compelling and rich, themes itself with who we are, what we leave behind and what we gain as we learn to love differently perhaps, but love deeply. Deft and nuanced, Keegan’s prose is tone perfect and authentic, with great impact.
This collection is always surprising and Keegan’s talent emerges gracefully and with full force as she delves into love, and transcendence. We have to thank her parents and professors for collecting the writing she left and offering it to her readers, for we are left with a sense of a huge talent lost after reading the collection.
I fell in love with Keegan and her prose as Keegan’s promise, reminiscent of a young Raymond Carver, left us too early as we yearn for her promise and legacy to come.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories is available on Amazon.com and booksellers nationwide