Like a good TV series, Gabby Bess’s book creates a compulsion to continually fast forward to the next page/episode, balancing an emotional engagement that’s continually intricate yet alluringly unresolved.
– Dazed and Confused
[Alone with Other People] explores the inherently complicated experience of being a young woman … [tackling] topics like fame, alienation, and constant digital performativity.
– Urban Outfitters
Before interrupting the merry-go-round of shouting and kicking boys, April watched them, in an envious sort of way, tilting her head up to try to steal some of their lightness. Kissing is like Kung Fu, April thought, in the way that one person always gains the upper hand and has the option to deliver an open-palm-punch straight to the other’s heart area. The boys jumped and kicked and laughed and said the word kiss without any hesitation. They said the word kiss so carelessly, tossing it up and then playfully punching and kicking it. April thought about kissing and wanted to feel the force of three seven-year-olds consistently punching her heart area for the rest of her life.
–from “Experience the Fun”
“What Gabby Bess captures with her words is the beauty of a fragile time and place. In this collection, she evokes what it means to be young, to be a woman, to have both feet firmly planted both in this world and the virtual. She asks fascinating questions like, ‘Is anyone moved by the plainness of raw skin anymore?’ She makes you trust she has the necessary answers with intelligence and confidence. In this book, Bess builds an identity for herself and tears it down and builds herself anew. It is breathtaking to behold.”
—Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist
“The poems and prose pieces in this smart and complex collection illuminate the shape of a new, 21st century webcam feminism—one that questions its own ambitions, knows the shape of pornstar mouths, and doubts the sanctity of individuality when pitted against the existential. Gabby writes with radical uncertainty about illusions of control, the limits of identity, and what it means to still want to kiss another human amidst the screenshots. This is a book that invents its own female gaze and then, like a bad bitch, breaks the lens.”
—Melissa Broder, author of Meat Heart
“Gabby Bess’s Alone With Other People orchestrates an impressive catalog of young human want with a uncompromising style. In the span between its first phrase The sex can be rough and its last sentence, Panic., the reader forward through a virtual rolodex of self-inquisition shaped by boredom, horror, aspiration, fear for future, wonder, lust. There’s a lot of intense light coming off this book full of screens and suns and large black dots.”
—Blake Butler, author of Sky Saw
“Don’t take me for crazy when I say that the verse “Hahaha, am I alone here?” is the one that best sums up Gabby’s incredible debut book, because it’s true. Through each and every page that makes up Alone With Other People, the author manages to head out into the world with a sane, witty and protesting laugh. A laugh about the strength of woman, of youth, of poetry. When Gabby says hahaha, it also starts to unravel before our very eyes a series of texts that first and foremost find beauty in the mundane, followed by the universality of intimacy, and lastly (and most importantly): the sensation that with this book, we will never, ever feel lonely again.”
—Luna Miguel, author of Bluebird and Other Tattoos
“Of-the-moment, brilliant, and triumphantly sad, Illuminati Girl Gang leader Gabby Bess’s debut Alone with Other People is a post-feminist, hyper self-conscious teen swansong of the Internet age. The line between girl body and Macbook is collapsed in these vignettes that riff from blog posts, text messages, and tumblr memes, and what emerges is a “modern tragic figure who would sacrifice herself for whatever.”
—Kate Durbin, author of E! Entertainment
“Alone With Other People deftly deals with relationships in a highly mediated age–one that twists our perceptions of self and others. Gabby shows us how we can be simultaneously complicit in this culture but still have the desire to fight against it.”
—Ann Hirsch, performance artist