El's Reviews > Mockingbird

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
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Mar 11, 12

bookshelves: 20th-centurylit-late, science-fictiony, society-went-boom
Read from March 04 to 11, 2012

This is my nightmare: a world where the human population is declining (though the android population is thriving), no one can (or even desires to) read, and everyone pops Valium (also designed to help curb fertility) just to get through the day. There's very little human interaction, and what little there manages to be is highly monitored.

That's this story, and it freaked me out, the solitary cat that I am. It unsettled me, which is certainly the point, mission: accomplished. Published in 1980 I wonder what Tevis would say about the state of things today, where most people carry phones called Androids, and so much communication is done via technology. I don't know the actual figures of where things stand when it comes to literacy today, though as far as I'm concerned people don't read nearly enough. Most interaction is through our phones and our computers; maybe it's just me but it seems when people actually get together there's this level of weirdness, like they don't know how to talk to each other anymore. Nine times out of ten someone in a group is texting someone else in a different group. It seems to be hard for people to communicate face-to-face.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm getting old and curmudgeonly. This is nothing new.

This book made an impact on me - not in the same way other dystopic novels like Dhalgren did, but any good dystopia makes one think about the state of society in which it was read, and not so much just when it was written. Mockingbird doesn't seem so impossible today, which is frightening, especially considering the story is to take place far into the future where none of us will actually live. Still, it's not unfathomable and it makes me want to read up on how to dig for clams in case I ever need to be on my own, finding my way to New York along the Eastern Seaboard.

Above all, though, it makes me want to read. And read some more. And not stop reading.
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