The Loneliness Files: A Memoir in Essays

Tin House. Oct. 2023. 192p. ISBN 9781959030126. pap. $17.95. MEMOIR
Written as a personal memoir, yet highly relevant in this COVID world, Dixon’s book about loneliness shows how damaging it is when parasocial bonds or one-sided relationships replace structures of social support or cohesion. Dixon, an award-winning poet, essayist, and editor who has contributed work to The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, opens the book with a vulnerable, visceral description of the sensory impact of loneliness and its potential to enfold reality in fictions of solitude that, for many people, become defining narratives. Dixon’s stories of disconnection and death range from the pointed to the poignant, consistently favoring complexity over easy assessments. Some may find that reading this book feels like listening to melancholy folk songs on repeat after a bad break-up. Extending this theme, Dixon offers suggested listening for each section of the text.
VERDICT Reflective yet urgent, reverberating with feeling. Dixon beautifully articulates how loneliness is paradoxically a narrative that people experience together, even as they experience it in spaces of isolation, vulnerability, and loss.
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