Monday, September 15, 2014

A More Modern Journal of the Plague Year

Yesterday, after a lovely brunch at Bahama Breeze, my dad wanted to read by the pool.  He'd been trying to check out an eBook from his home library, with no luck. 

So we went to our old-fashioned bookshelves, with books made out of paper.  He settled down to read Octavia Butler's Wild Seed.  He's become interested in all sorts of aspects of U.S. Colonial life since moving to Williamsburg, so I thought this book would provide an interesting twist.  I may read it again when he's done.  

I, too, wanted to read by the pool, so I looked at my shelves.  What to read, what to read?  I thought I was in the mood for a good apocalypse, and at first, I gravitated to Margaret Atwood.  But then my eye drifted to Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders:  A Novel of the Plague.

I read it when it first came out, back in 2001, a library copy.  I liked it so much that I bought it when I found it remaindered.  But I've never gone back to read it again.

I haven't finished it yet, but I'm here to report that it's every bit as wonderful as I remembered.  It's the kind of book that makes me feel like it's useless for me to try to write, since I will never be as talented as Geraldine Brooks.  But I try to ignore those feelings and appreciate the simple marvels of the book itself.

I love that Brooks makes the book feel both completely historically accurate and yet wonderfully modern too.  I love the main character, the first person, female narrator.  I love the apocalyptic topic, and the fact that it's set in the past, not some distant future--much to learn.

I've been spending time thinking about Ebola and all the possible outcomes, and my mind has come back often to various bubonic plague outbreaks in Europe, the time in disease history that seems most analogous to our own.  As I read this book, my theories seem more and more validated.

I finished the day by watching the new Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts--fascinating!  And there, too, there are interesting parallels to modern life--do-nothing legislatures, the frustrations of people who want to see the world evolve into something better.

We may have a repeat of yesterday today:  Mom reading her Kindle, me reading Year of Wonders, Dad reading Wild Seed.  Or will we go to a movie?  Or something I can't even anticipate yet?

It's their last full day here; I'm sure we will have fun.

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