Like a lot of people, Olivia Laing came to New York to join a lover. Like a lot of people, she soon became unjoined. She stopped eating and drifted, moved from sublet to sublet, wandered the streets in a desperate daze. She craved intimacy and shied away from it, was painfully self-conscious but also anxious that she was in danger of vanishing. What does loneliness feel like? It feels, she says, ‘like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged.’
The Lonely City is memoir, art criticism and a portrait of the Big Apple seen through the eyes of an accidental flâneuse.