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294 pages, Paperback
First published June 21, 2012
I wanted to think that somewhere on the other end of time, a hundred light years from then, someone else, some distant future creature might be looking back at a preserved image of me and my father at that very moment in my bedroom.Really, did the author never hear of Star Wars, in which Han Solo incorrectly uses the word “parsecs“ as a measure of time when it is really a measure of distance? Ditto here. It is conceivable that Julia might mistake light years for a measure of time, but one must wonder if it is the author who got this one wrong. This would be surprising as it is clear Walker did a lot of research for this book. Another was when everyone was terrified by an eclipse. Even in a slowed down earth, one would expect that science would still be able to predict such events and offer public notice. This sort of thing is jarring and challenges one’s ability to suspend disbelief.
Maybe it had begun to happen before the slowing, but it was only afterward that I realized it: my friendships were disintegrating. Everything was coming apart. It was a rough crossing, the one from childhood to the next life. As with any other harsh journey, not everything survived.And another:
Some things that happen during youth, you carry with you into later life, and certain experts were already predicting an approaching tidal wave of cancersSo why did I not love this book?
We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it.
We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin. We were distracted back then by weather and war. We had no interest in the turning of the earth. Bombs continued to explode on the streets of distant countries. Hurricanes came and went. Summer ended. A new school year began. The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that those hours, too, weren’t still pooling into days, each the same fixed length known to every human being.
But there were those who would later claim to have recognized the disaster before the rest of us did. These were the night workers, the graveyard shifters, the stockers of shelves, and the loaders of ships, the drivers of big- rig trucks, or else they were the bearers of different burdens: the sleepless and the troubled and the sick.
These people were accustomed to waiting out the night. Through bloodshot eyes, a few did detect a certain persistence of darkness on the mornings leading up to the news, but each mistook it for the private misperception of a lonely, rattled mind.
Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things: the hole in the ozone layer, the melting of the ice caps, West Nile and swine flu and killer bees. But I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different—unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.