For this month’s From My Bookshelf feature, I pulled three books that are either about the end of the world, or take place in a variation of our world/an alternative future. Two are frightful and one is hopeful; all are genius.
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
I reread this when the Hulu series was released, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch yet it because I feel that watching the story will be far more terrifying and uncomfortable. Which of course, means I should watch it ASAP…
If you haven’t read the novel, pick it up today. Although there is oppression, there is also strength. Erasure of history is combated by remembrance and refusal to lose sanity and hope.
Someone must be out there, taking care of things. I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light. There must be a resistance, or where do all the criminals come from, on the television?
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
This book is about a deadly flu, survival, friends, family, and even Shakespeare!
What makes this apocalyptic story so enticing, besides the previously mentioned, is that it’s more about hope than it is about death.
This is not to say there is no sadness, no tragedy. Quite the opposite, actually, but the beauty is in figuring out humanity’s place on Earth, and trying to piece together what life is about.
We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt.
The Terrible Twos Ishmael Reed
I started rereading this because I read it last in college, and remember getting close to nothing out of it. The pace is quite quick and the story quite ridiculous, although reading it now turns me into the woman at Holly’s party in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, who laughs at herself in the mirror one moment, and then sobs uncontrollably the next. From the back of the book: “The Terrible Twos is a wickedly funny, sharp-edged fictional assault on all those sulky, spoiled naysayers needing instant gratification – Americans.” “This offbeat, on-target social critique makes marvelous fun of everything that is American, from commercialism to Congress, Santa Claus to religious cults.” Scarily enough, this book is as relevant now (maybe more so) than it was when it was published in 1982.
“How is Anne? Is Anne coming home for Christmas? Is she still mad at us?”
“She’s still in the sanitorium, dear. She has so many drugs in her she can hardly stand up. But it’s for her own good. She’s such a throwback to the sixties, her idealism. She still can’t understand why you permitted the chairman of the American Nazi Party to meet with you in the White House…So young and so vulnerable. She was always embarrassing us. Demonstrating for this or that cause. Raising funds for the South Carolina refugees. Those people shouldn’t have been living in South Carolina in the first place.”
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