Book Review: Streaming Now by Laurie Stone

By Stephanie Gemmell

Postcards fulfill an impulse to share our experiences, concisely capturing moments in time and carrying brief messages to people in distant places. Now, postcards also tend to represent a sense of nostalgia, conveying some appreciation for an apparently simpler time.

In Streaming Now: Postcards from the Thing that is Happening, Laurie Stone’s writing reflects both a motivation to share her ideas and an appreciation for the past. Stone documents her experiences, thoughts, and seemingly random musings from the pandemic, along with some particular memories of her life before its descent.

The “postcards” that make up the book sound and feel like fleeting thoughts grasped just long enough to be put on paper. Many of Stone’s dispatches come from a place she calls “Pandemica,” viewed unsympathetically from her vantage point in Hudson, New York. She addresses a wide variety of topics, in no particular order, realistically capturing a steady stream of thoughts and ideas.

Stone recounts in detail the films and shows she watched throughout the worst of the pandemic. She unabashedly expresses her views on the value and necessity of feminism in frank personal terms. She candidly addresses loss: the death of her sister, the experience of caring for her dying dog. She questions the role of abstract language in the pursuit of social change. She describes her impressions of her early writing career and recounts the details of some gigs she worked as a caterer.

Some of Stone’s paragraphs flow seamlessly through intertwined topics. Others abruptly traverse chasms between disparate subjects. This unpredictability in structure conveys a pervasive sense of movement that evolves throughout the book. While this organizational element of Stone’s approach to the book can prompt confusion or unease in some places, even these reactions seem to support Stone’s intent. Stone shifts topics from sentence to sentence in some places, resulting in a stream of consciousness narration that feels authentic and artfully unedited.

The strength of Laurie Stone’s writing lies in her capacity to integrate evocative description with striking frankness and concision. Even the shortest paragraphs in this book embody Stone’s literary vitality and her palpable resistance to the weight of the pandemic. Her specific yet relatable narratives about mundane activities—buying plants for her garden, partaking in Zoom events, accidentally eating too much of a marijuana gummy—become increasingly engaging based on their apparent randomness and sheer number.

Stone’s writing in Streaming Now bluntly captures the complexity of life, as she details events ranging from the unremarkable to the life-altering. Based on what she includes, Stone’s forthrightness in this book serves less as a literary device than an effort to build real trust with the reader. 

Stone’s writing reflects the value of taking the time to freely capture thoughts as they come, honestly and without inhibition. As a whole, Streaming Now implicitly challenges readers to draw up vivid mental postcards of their own experiences and memories.

STEPHANIE GEMMELL is a writer and composer currently living in Pennsylvania. Her writing has been featured in Just Place ChapbookCapitol LettersThe Ekphrastic ReviewThe Rival GW, and in the poetry anthology Falling Leaves published by Day Eight. She also attended the 2021 Glen Workshop as a poetry and songwriting fellow. She recently graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University with a BA in Religious Studies and minors in Journalism and Psychology. Her work is motivated by the unique power of art to ask meaningful questions and inspire authenticity.