Break Up

A novel in essays that locates a “romance” within the mesh of electronic communication.

So I didn’t call you: instead I posted a new avatar of myself without my habitual dark glasses. I have learned: an image, any image, is a blind. All avatars give different information, illusions of contact called Telepresence, none of them the real thing. You texted me, 3 am, from some station … As though it made any difference. But it did.—from Break.up

In this “novel in essays,” Joanna Walsh simultaneously flees and pursues an ambiguous partner in an affair conducted mostly online. Traversing Europe, she awaits emails and texts and PMs, awash in her dreams, offering succinct meditations on connection and communication. If Marguerite Duras situated the telephone as the twentieth century’s preferred hopeless form of connection, Walsh pinpoints the nodal points of a “romance” within today’s mesh of electronic communication.

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