Patricia Lockwood’s debut novel, as she tweeted, is “about being very inside the internet and then being very outside of it”. It follows published poetry collections including Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals (2014) and a memoir, Priestdaddy, which was named one of the ten best books of 2017 by The New York Times.
No one Is Talking About This cleaves into two distinct parts: in the first, the unnamed protagonist—propelled to internet fame after tweeting Can a dog be twins?—meets fans on an international speaking tour. Two text messages from her mother cut the trip short: Something has gone wrong and How soon can you get here? She returns to her family home in Ohio to be with her sister, whose baby has been diagnosed with Proteus syndrome, a rare congenital disorder. “Look how big her head is lol,” her sister had texted about an ultrasound before they realised it was a sign of abnormality.
Lockwood’s life is inextricably intertwined with the internet. Having grown up in “all the worst cities of the Midwest”, in her memoir she describes it as a refuge: “a place of living, moving, breathing text, a book that continually wrote itself.” She has built a devoted fanbase on Twitter for tweets like “.@parisreview So is Paris any good or not” and posts ventriloquising her cat. Lockwood’s powerful poem ‘Rape Joke’, which first appeared in 2013 on the site The Awl, was widely shared online. Her voice—whether in Twitter ‘sexts’ or erudite-yet-outrageous contributions to the London Review of Books—was forged in the kiln of Web 2.0: intimate, zany, blasphemous, lewd. And unabashedly performative: “I’m a show-off,” she told the Guardian in 2017, “a clown”…
Read the full review online in the Irish Times