Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sports Bloggers Drew Magary Has Written a Humorous but Chilling Dystopian Novel and is Visiting Boswell on Wednesday, November 30.

So a customer comes in to the store and says, "Drew Magary is talking about his visit here on Twitter." Now despite our account and the Tweet deck on Stacie's desktop and my occasional tweet browsing, I am just terrible at Twitter. I don't know how to say "Well, whatever you do, don't go to dinner at..." since I don't want the whole world hearing my criticism. As a small businessperson, I can't bear to give a bad review to anyone local, though I've been known to criticize a hotel on Trip Advisor.*

With that note, I was given hope that Mr. Magary has a good-sized following from his sports blogging at Deadspin, a blog that I knew about, as it is noted on the bottom of other sites as part of the Gawker media empire, and Kissing Suzy Kolber, one I did not know about. It is a humorous NFL-releated site. a division of Uproxx. How do people have so much time to Tweet with all these blogs to read? And when does one get to check in on Foursquare? Do people do this? Am I in trouble not being on Google+? But I digress, in a panicky way. I am not going to refer to any sort of social networking or web 2.0 in the rest of this post. Well, maybe once more.

As you know, I am up for a few sleepers in our event schedule, and the deal was sealed when I learned that Jason had already read The Postmortal. I looked at the novel, and seeing a Grim Reaper who has been attacked by his (or her, I guess) own scythe, I thought, "Hey, Greg might read this too, and if they both love it, maybe Sharon."

But that wasn't enough readers, I guess. I also read The Postmortal, mostly because I got confused about who was going to be present at some sort of dinner I went to. Not Magary. No matter, still useful.  Like renaming mail "snail mail", this is an adult dystopian novel, the adjective useful here because so many books I talk about of late are young adult dystopians.

Premise: there's been a scientific breakthrough--a cure for aging. It's called The Cure. Hooray!

But there are a few hitches:
--You can still die, but no more peaceful going in your sleep
--You can still have kids, and in fact, most folks wind up setting their age at the nice childbearing range of 25-30
--It costs a lot of money, particularly at first, leading to the haves and have-nots
--Some people think it is wrong, and in a terroristy kind of way
--Just because people live way longer, doesn't mean they aren't still bad.

This leads to quite a few problems. Our hero is John Farrell, a lawyer who switches to divorce law when a whole mess of people realize that "till death do us part" has a different ring to it when the time together is going to be a whole lot longer. They come up with cycle marraiges. And then he switches totally careers; let's just say that it's euthenasia taken to another level. But this is just one of the complications of a life without aging. Does the world get better? Oh no, it does not. It just gets worse and worse.

In a sense, what we have here is modern epistolary novel as the story is told in a series of blog posts. There are even periodic roundups of internet links, which doing a good job of explaining the horrifying developments as the story jumps into the future.  Don't worry, they are far better structured than this blog, and go down much better than the few novels written as emails I've come across. It's a funny, provocative story, and yes, rather violent and gruesome, but honestly, not as violent and gruesome as I expected. Jason and I agreed that for a story such as this, he probably could have gone to the next level of yuch. His target audience could have handled it.

And yes, there are zombies of a sort (much thanks to wpclipart for image).

Drew Magary is coming to Boswell on Wednesday, November 30, at 7 pm. Need some more prodding? The Seattle Post Intelligencer picked up Nancy Fontaine's review from "The Postmortal is science fiction at its best, portraying a realistic potential future while plumbing the depth of human nature. And in this case, providing a truly a cautionary fairy tale."

 There are so many book blogs out there, it's hard to find a few to single out with quotes. Here's Dustin Rowles, writing about the book in Pajiba: "What’s so remarkable about The Postmortal is how terrifying realistic it reads. How far is science from actually isolating the gene for aging and halting it (in the novel, The Cure is discovered in 2019)? And who would be granted The Cure? The super-rich, people under a certain age, everyone? The prospect of eternal life is compelling on an individual level, but chilling at a societal level, and Magary brilliantly navigates the forces at play on both sides.

And here's the Largehearted Boy playlist for the book, which includes Oasis, Radiohead, and Alice in Chains.

*Not often, but sometimes I am pushed. Years ago I stayed at a  very large mid-South downtown hotel where they refused to move me from a street level room that had hotel construction right outside my window .  I had already changed once (the first room had a broken television) but to know avail; both rooms looked like the furniture was picked up at a thrift store in a bad way, and the hallways reeked of cigarettes and ketchup. Oh, and the hotel was swamped with screaming middle school students on some sort of conference. They wouldn't move me away from the construction beause I had an internet rate, yet I was pretty sure the convention rate for those kids was at or below my good but not amazing deal. I wound up eating the cost of the second night (they would not refund) and moving to another hotel.

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