Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


He’d hoped to slip past his former colleagues unnoticed, but these were men whose professional skills included noticing people who tried to slip past them, and they were upon him all at once.

I have big plans for this week without children. I’m going to finish writing a novel, read four books, get so far ahead at work that I’ll be granted the title, “Super Editor,” show my dear husband all the affection I forget to show when there are three kids clamoring for my attention, eat healthfully, do the taxes, exercise very day, finish watching all of Friends on Netflix, and make the dog feel loved. And the cats, though they are ungrateful.

I know. My eyes are bigger than my calendar.

But look, it’s Sunday morning, not much past ten, and I have already done so much. I cleared the cars of snow and moved them for the plow. I have snuggled with the animals. I finished the book I started several days ago.

I’m not usually a fan of post-apocalyptic depictions of a world with neither electricity nor decent coffee, but for Ms. Emily I figured I’d make the exception. It helps that reviewers are swooning over her latest book. I read her first book years ago because it was assigned to me by a review editor, and I’ve read her subsequent books because she is very, very good. And I think she might be a sweet person. She is the only author to ever send me a personal thank you card for a review. Points all around.

In this book, civilization has been destroyed by the flu. About 99 percent of the world’s population has died. Those who are left? They struggle. There is beauty and horror in nearly equal measure.

Yesterday I drove six hours round trip to deliver my boys to my parents’ house and return home before the blizzard hit. Not far into our journey we passed a car tipped onto its roof, blackened by a fire since extinguished. A large pink stuffed bear lay in the road and honestly, you couldn’t ask for a more poignantly cliched visual representation of bad luck. If I were editing this scene I’d make a note. “Um, might want to ease up on the pedal of ┬átriteness.” But it was all real, all over the highway.

“You always think bad stuff is going to happen to other people,” my 12-year-old muttered wisely. “But you can never really know.”

Of course, he’s right. Eventually, bad stuff happens to everyone. But to live in expectation of the bad stuff is exhausting and pointless. There have been times in my life when I thought this expectation was romantic and soulful. I was wrong. But I can’t tell my son that, just as no one could’ve told me when I was 20 and suffering for the sake of suffering. It’s just something we go through.

I’m going to do some work and then I’m going to do some yoga and later I’m going to take M to the grocery store for a date. And I’m going to revel in the produce on display from all over the world. Later, I will eat a grapefruit. Enjoy this world while we’ve got it, dear ones. Gather ye rosebuds and eat your oranges.

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