Hell is other people, wrote Jean-Paul Sartre; and this may grant perspective on the news that solitude is in vogue in the United States. “Today, more than 50 percent of American adults are single,” writes Eric Klinenberg in Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (Penguin Press HC, 288 pages, $27.95) “and 31 million—roughly one out of every seven adults—live alone.” Why so lonesome, Americans? A professor of sociology at New York University, Mr. Klinenberg spent years on the trail of typical specimens of contemporary singleness, from rake to recluse to divorcée. Now he has written a book, which reveals that most Americans live alone not because they must but because they would rather. Incidentally, it also suggests that the selfless gene may be recessive. As one interviewee puts it, “I just like that I don’t have to worry about anybody else’s anything.” That attitude is ahead of the curve—but only by a hair. “Our species has about 200,000 years of experience with collective living,” Mr. Klinenberg writes, “[but] only about fifty or sixty years with our experiment in going solo on a massive scale.” We live in the dawn of the first millennium of me time. Read More
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