I recently reviewed Olivia Laing's The Lonely City, and I absolutely enjoyed this book. Read the review in its entirety at: Your Impossible Voice. Here's a bit from the intro:
The Lonely City—part memoir, part art history, part sociological investigation—is a book that is ostensibly about loneliness. However, it often wanders into the vast, complex territory that surrounds the lonely person: authenticity, openness, curiosity, intimacy, vulnerability. Olivia Laing explores these complexities by carefully arranging her own experiences, during a lonely period in New York, with the work of artists, such as Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, and Henry Darger. “People make things,” she writes, “—make art or things that are akin to art—as a way of expressing their need for contact, or their fear of people; people make objects as a way of coming to terms with shame, with grief. People make objects to strip themselves down, to survey their scars, and people make objects to resist oppression, to create a space in which they can move freely.” Through art, we can understand Laing’s desire to find some kind of resolve, and by positioning loneliness in relation to art, she also captures one of the primary reasons we all turn to art: to construct a sense of self. This is especially true when we lose our identities in the face of isolation. The Lonely City, then, is about what happens when we find the things, the people, and even the spaces that allow us to restore what has been lost.