In her latest book, The Lonely City, Olivia Laing writes a brilliant exposition on solitude, art, and the bridge between the two. She expertly profiles artists and philosophers known for their affinity—forced or otherwise—for solitude, including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Edward Hopper, Valerie Solanas, and Andy Warhol. At the same time, she seamlessly weaves in her own personal narrative: A newly single writer in her mid-thirties, the daughter of two lesbians, moving to New York City to work on defining herself artistically, socially, and personally.
All of this combined with Laing’s impressive research on the social, psychological, and physiological implications of loneliness—including how the internet served to magnify it—packs an ambitious literary punch. The Lonely City is a book I can’t recommend enough.
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
by Olivia Laing
Writer recounts her own experiences in moving to New York City in her mid-thirties and interweaves those with analyses of depictions in art of solitude and loneliness in a city setting. Discusses the lives of the artists behind the works and the ways solitude influenced their art. 2016.