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An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life review: Exploring loneliness when we’re more connected than ever

Paul Dalla Rosa has created a modern and close-to-home collection that may just earn him the title of Bard of the “terminally online”

An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life is out now (Serpent’s Tail)

The narrator of Comme, one of the early stories in Paul Dalla Rosa’s brilliant debut collection An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life, is the manager of a sparsely stocked high-fashion retail space in Melbourne. “We had no signage. […] We played no music. Clothes hung from metal scaffolding. In shifts, time dilated.” The store embodies everything that Twitter would describe as a “liminal space”.

Throughout the story we learn of the subtle, queer dissatisfaction that the main character has towards his life, both personal and professional. It is a feeling exuded by many of the characters through-out Dalla Rosa’s collection, a stark juxtaposition of melancholy in the metropolis.

Through these 10 stories, Dalla Rosa meditates on that hyper-contemporary irony of the loneliness many can feel despite the fact we are more connected than ever. How many of us revel in our alleged, exciting and vivid inner lives? Mixed with the delusions of individualism goaded by social media, we meet a cast of characters as memorable as they are deeply tragic. 

This is truly a one-story-at-a-time collection, an approach best taken just in case you ever find yourself relating somewhat too closely to these sad people. In this book, Dalla Rosa has created a modern and close-to-home collection that may just earn him the title of Bard of the “terminally online”.

Barry Pierce is a journalist and cultural commentator

You can buy An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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