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In this timely, insightful, and darkly funny investigation, the acclaimed author of Against Love asks: what does living in dystopic times do to our ability to love each other and the world?
COVID-19 has produced new taxonomies of love, intimacy, and vulnerability. Will its cultural afterlife be as lasting as that of HIV, which reshaped consciousness about sex and love even after AIDS itself had been beaten back by medical science? Will COVID end up making us more relationally conservative, as some think HIV did within gay culture? Will it send us fleeing into emotional silos or coupled cocoons, despite the fact that, pre-COVID, domestic coupledom had been steadily losing fans?
Just as COVID revealed our nation to itself, so did it hold a mirror up to our relationships. In Love in the Time of Contagion, Laura Kipnis weaves (often hilariously) her own (ambivalent) coupled lockdown experiences together with those of others and sets them against a larger backdrop: the politics of the virus, economic disparities, changing gender relations, and the ongoing institutional crack-ups prompted by #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, mapping their effects on the everyday routines and occasional solaces of love and sex.
About the Author
LAURA KIPNIS is a cultural critic and former video artist. She is the author of seven previous books, and her writing has also appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Slate, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, Playboy, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and Bookforum. Kipnis is a professor at Northwestern University, where she teaches filmmaking.
"Readers who crave that warm feeling of being taken into someone’s confidence will also find a lot to like in Laura Kipnis’s Love in the Time of Contagion: A Diagnosis.”
—The Washington Post
“Love in the Time of Contagion is shot through with Kipnis’ ample comic talent. As a satirist and commiserator she has few equals these days.”
"Smooth, lovely stuff, aching for whole chapters, then bracingly mystical, and finally earthy and real."
—The Chicago Tribune
"[Love in the Time of Contagion] is perfectly equidistant between riff and investigation. It’s hard to think of anyone else who would cover, in such a short span, the #MeToo movement, H.I.V. crisis pamphlets, Rodney Dangerfield, Jung, Eugene Ionesco, Reddit, Kafka and a 2010 supernatural horror movie about a guy haunted by his astral-projecting son."
—The New York Times
“Riveting about what we have used the pandemic to do to, and for, ourselves Kipnis’s book is genuinely enlivening about a terrible thing. This may be just the kind of wit and wisdom we need to do more than merely survive our bad times.”
—Adam Phillips, author of Attention Seeking
"Through interviews with friends, colleagues, experts, and students, Kipnis searches for answers in a time when everything everyone ever knew about love, sex, and romance is called into question. By tapping into the Zoom-fueled zeitgeist, Kipnis brings an ironic perspective to this most intimate of subjects. Disarmingly honest, voyeuristically campy, Kipnis’ discussion of COVID-19-influenced coupledom is both witty and wise."
—Booklist (starred review)
“Cultural critic and essayist Kipnis explores how Covid-19 and the socio-economic turbulence of the recent years have reshaped concepts of dating, love, sex, and interpersonal closeness…In this witty four-essay collection, she explores how the pandemic, in tandem with such preexisting crises as political polarization, accelerating economic disparities, and racial and sexual injustice, has permanently altered intimate relationships . . . Fearless and sharply observed, this book suggests that future post-pandemic challenges will have less to do with its biological legacy to humanity and more to do with the impact of a virus on interpersonal closeness. Provocative and darkly humorous.”