The book, which has many moments of sharp and vivid writing, suffers from being packaged as a manifesto ... In positing a defense of something normal that has been taken away from us by a variety of rapacious factors...it is not saying anything that is untrue, just articulating something that many of us already know ... Although the book is arguing for something nearly universal, the author shapes the narrative through stories of her own highly specific experiences ... Liming isn’t claiming to be comprehensive, but the first-person focus does leave some major holes ... But I forgive Liming for these lapses, in part because her chapter on parties is so richly drawn. It’s a layered exploration of social dynamics and contains some textured literary criticism.
Liming’s self-proclaimed manifesto opens with a simple and expansive account of what hanging out is, the better to help us understand why it matters ... With that in mind, what follows is perplexing. Hanging Out contains neither evidence that hanging out has become incredibly hard nor suggestions for how to realistically change the circumstances that might make it difficult. Instead, Liming dedicates much of the book to stories from her past. She has lived an interesting life, and she tells these stories well ... Paradoxically, these unique experiences are a massive hindrance for the book. Liming is an expert on the costs of appearing on a reality show, but that has limited utility in a chapter that aspires to analyze the way reality television has kept its viewers from hanging out. As she builds her argument, it begins to seem like she has never watched a reality show ... Unconvincing ... Liming often fails to really engage with the ways others hang out ... A partially successful memoir that mostly fails as a manifesto.