WYR: End in the Beginning

Some weeks I’m itching for a good mystery. Others I’m craving an emotional roller coaster. Or fantasy. Or historical fiction. Or goodness knows what. It might be brand new or something ancient or anywhere in between. In any case, it’s nice to share, so …

What’s Your Read?

I didn’t start Station Eleven. I decimated it. I plowed through that beautiful novel like it had been a derby pie. Unlike a derby pie, however, devouring the entire book didn’t leave me the size of a house and rethinking my life choices.

In order to fairly express my appreciation, I feel I should acknowledge that last week I said one of my all-time favorites, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, has everything I love in a book. This is absolutely true.

Except when it isn’t. (I feel like I should make a joke about only a Sith dealing in absolutes, which by the way, is an absolute itself. But enough of my geekery.) Guernsey has everything, but Station Eleven has everything, too. The other everything or a different everything, perhaps. Post-apocolyptic dystopia, graphic novels, Shakespeare, multiple entirely separate yet intrinsically linked plot lines, and narration that navigates timeline jumps in every direction like a world class gymnast.

In Emily St. John Mandel’s first chapter, one protagonist dies and the world is brought to its knees by what everyone thought was an unfortunate but contained rise of the flu. I’m reminded of the line from Samuel Beckett’s Endgame:

“The end is in the beginning and yet you go on.”

A global pandemic destroys civilization right out of the gate, the end in the beginning, and like the chess-term title of Beckett’s play, the characters must question, given the location and status of the other players, whether or not their own end is a foregone conclusion.  That questioning leads some to despair, some to peace, some to go on, and some to consuming madness.

Most fitting that it all starts with a performance of King Lear.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

What’s your next read?

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