Positive stories against the stereotype of a "loner"
November 23, 2018 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by but only partially related to this AskMe question, what are some positive stories of people who live alone?

To be clear, not looking for stories of people who are just temporarily single, but Find Love When They Least Expect It (TM), nor stories of people who might not have blood family nearby, but make their own chosen family and a million friends by being the heart and soul of every gathering.

I'm looking for positive stories (print, video, fiction, non-fiction, what have you) of people who are long-term alone, kinda loners or introvert, and comfortable with it, as well as being in some ways or others useful or valuable to society, without necessarily being very social or establishing close relationships with people.

Are there any stories that do not include even the hint of the stereotype of the "loner" being a mis-adjusted weirdo who might or might not be likely to shoot up a school (if male), or a cat-collecting hoarder living with the deceased body of her sister (if female)?

Getting closer to middle age, I realize I have no role models to emulate, but maybe I haven't been looking hard enough? What have you got, MeFites?
posted by Ender's Friend to Human Relations (22 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a continuing inspiration to me.
posted by ananci at 3:01 PM on November 23, 2018 [16 favorites]


I found the FPP on E. Jean Carroll to be inspiring.
posted by jazzbaby at 3:12 PM on November 23, 2018


Jack Reacher, from Lee Child’s novels, which are intentionally formulaic but much better written than you may think.
posted by nicwolff at 3:20 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Temple Grandin maybe
posted by crocomancer at 3:22 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think I recommended her writing a lot on ask mefi, but Emily Carr's memoirs are fantastic!
posted by to recite so charmingly at 3:33 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction story "Solitude" might fit for you. There's a short excerpt online.
posted by readinghippo at 3:36 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Woodswoman, an autobiography by Anne LaBastille, is very good. As is the old tv special Alone in the Wilderness.
posted by umwhat at 3:40 PM on November 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Werner Herzog's documentary "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga"
posted by ProtoStar at 5:28 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


This short comic by Tillie Walden captures a bit of that, I think.
posted by btfreek at 6:15 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


I haven’t read this yet, so can’t vouch for it, but it might be of some interest: Party of One, The Loners Manifesto.
posted by MountainDaisy at 6:46 PM on November 23, 2018


I really love this essay by Daniel Mallory Ortberg about a painting of a woman who looks exceedingly pleased to be alone. It’s not a story, but it’s a really powerful narrative, and helped me reframe my own personal story for myself:

The woman is alone. Do you know how rare finding a moment’s peace has been for women throughout human history? If you spent the rest of your days alone in a cottage on a solitary Alp, it would not begin to make up for the years your foremothers spent having to listen to men as a profession. (You can tell that this woman is happy because there are no men in this picture.) A woman alone is a beautiful thing.
posted by the sockening at 7:37 PM on November 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Lucy by radiolab about a young woman who chooses to live alone in a cage in African jungle (makes sense in the context of the story) to rehabilitate chimps.
posted by hotcoroner at 8:23 PM on November 23, 2018


... as well as being in some ways or others useful or valuable to society, without necessarily being very social or establishing close relationships with people.

You’re describing the character of Doc from Cannery Row.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:32 PM on November 23, 2018


Miss Rumphius
posted by Violet Hour at 10:33 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Jayber Crow
posted by saul wright at 12:07 AM on November 24, 2018


What about the cowboys in "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys?" ("He ain't wrong, he's just different...") There are some negative aspects of that cowboy icon, the romantic image of the rugged male individualist, but you have to look pretty hard to find those. There are mostly positives. I'll try to think of the best media that encapsulates it.
posted by salvia at 12:48 AM on November 24, 2018


If you're looking for RL friends to chat with MeMail me. :)
posted by bendy at 3:43 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


The film "Can You Ever Forgive Me" is extremely on point, and you'll probably walk out of the theatre smiling. It's still in some theatres right now.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 1:04 PM on November 24, 2018


I think you’d enjoy knowing about Dick Proenneke, subject of the superb documentary “Alone in the Wilderness.”
posted by kelborel at 6:02 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Writer Sara Maitland
posted by tiger tiger at 12:40 AM on November 25, 2018


Nthing Sara Maitland. Her memoir, 'A Book of Silence' had a profound impact on me as a lifelong loner (albeit with a partner) - it is beautiful, hopeful and pragmatic. Highly recommended.
posted by freya_lamb at 9:25 AM on November 25, 2018




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