The comedian and author will read from her book “How To Be Alone” on August 11 via A Room of One’s Own’s Instagram account.
Photo by Mindy Tucker.
As New York comedian Lane Moore’s first book opens, she’s filling out intake forms at the gynecologist. The blank for an emergency contact trips her up. Agonizing over the reality that no one in her life fits the bill, she leaves it blank. She’s nearly brought to angry tears by a disbelieving receptionist before the doctor offers to be her support network. Moore scoffs.
Some people have a life-long, rock-solid, loving support network. Other people have one cool aunt and an old friend from college who lives in another city. Some folks don’t even have that.
It’s for the latter groups that Moore wrote How To Be Alone: If You Want To, And Even If You Don’t (2018, Simon and Schuster). Moore, an energetic combination of comedian, actor, writer and musician, will be reading from her book live on Tuesday, August 11 at 6 p.m. via Madison bookstore A Room of One’s Own’s Instagram.
How To Be Alone is a brutally honest and bravely vulnerable comedic memoir with a twist of self-help book. Moore pours her big, bursting heart out on the page in a book that’s dramatic, beautiful and raw—mirroring the experience of constantly seeking a type of connection that one has no real experience with. It’s an opportunity for some readers to identify with her and others to gain perspective.
Moore recounts the mishaps of life as a hopeless romantic who’s never really felt loved or like she belonged. Throughout the book she examines the emotional habits and coping mechanisms of someone who had no choice but to be precocious. Moore’s stories morph from living in a state of relationship saviorism to realizing the value in being one’s own best friend.
How To Be Alone holds meditations on the true and perfect love of Jim Halpert from The Office and a how-to guide for another year of spending the holidays alone. The book is rife with pop-culture references to Empire Records, The Craft and so much music. Chapters are prefaced with quotes from Neko Case, Roald Dahl (spoiler alert: Matilda, with whom Moore related as a child), bell hooks and Harold And Maude.
In other books Moore had read about loneliness, the state was described as temporary or a defect, which didn’t sit well with her.
“I wanted to write a book about how to embrace your feelings of loneliness, or not belonging, and how to make the most of it, and learn to be your own friend, your own partner, and your own parent if you need to be,” Moore says. “And I think most of us, even in the best circumstances, greatly benefit from learning that.”
Moore lived in the back of her car after high school before moving herself to New York City. She scored an internship at The Onion, served as Cosmopolitan’s Sex & Relationships editor and has written for The New Yorker. She’s done all this more or less alone, and says anyone can benefit from learning how to fly solo.
“Even if you have the best family, partner, friends, they could change or leave or die. Hopefully not, but life is about so much change,” she says. “Learning how to be alone with yourself, how to love yourself and like yourself, so that people can come and go but you always have yourself, is invaluable, and I wanted to help people do that.”
In How To Be Alone, Moore teaches by example through hilariously heart-wrenching tales of an unacknowledged crush on a middle school best friend, a boyfriend who was perfect on paper, and an addict girlfriend who alternately fawned over her and withdrew. She weaves in somehow adorable narratives of navigating childhood emotional abandonment and an astute and entertaining explanation of attachment theory. And, of course, advice for finding and appreciating in oneself exactly what they’re seeking in others.
Moore was initially slated to bring her one-woman interactive comedy show, Tinder Live, to the High Noon Saloon in late May, before the pandemic demolished Madison’s live events calendar.
Lucky for her followers old and new, the pandemic is providing ample fodder for Moore. Dutifully quarantining in New York City with her adopted chihuahua, Lights, she’s been uber active on social media. Moore recently tweeted, “if adults called you an old soul when you were a kid you’re on at least one antidepressant.” She also hosts a hit Twitch show each Friday, which she likens to a PeeWee’s Playhouse for lonely adults. On the New York Times-acclaimed production, she plays a retro, Dream Date-like card game called Heart Throb and acts as a jester, friend and motivational pandemic cheerleader.
“In a way, I’d had a lot of practice not seeing people that much in person, because I’d spent most of my life missing people, and getting comfortable with keeping myself company,” she says.
How To Be Alone is finding new readers as the extended quarantine makes unwitting loners of multitudes.
“So many people are, for the first time in their lives, having to learn how to be alone with their own thoughts. The past traumas, hurts, unresolved feelings that come up when you’re forced to sit with yourself,” Moore says.
The book holds readers’ hands on this difficult path and offers compassion, empathy and a sense that they’re not alone in this experience.
“I wrote this book as a leap of faith that maybe, maybe someone else in the world has felt like I have or has thought these things,” she says. Now, she gets hundreds of letters each week from people who thought they were the only ones who felt so alone.
Moore’s advice for being alone during the pandemic?
“Don’t be afraid of the pain that’s coming up for you. It’s coming up so you can face it and be lighter once this is over,” Moore says.