Patrick's Reviews > After the Apocalypse

After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh
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Jan 10, 2012

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bookshelves: books-read-in-2012
Recommended for: Fans of World War Z

Pretty solid collection around a great theme. While every story takes place "After the Apocalypse", what is interesting is how the definition of 'Apocalypse' varies from story to story. In one, it's a mash-up of zombies and Escape From New York. In another, it's a divorce. While most stories hue closer to global disaster, each one tackles it from a single, personal perspective, which gives the stories more emotional heft.

They're not all great; "Going to France" is slight and a little befuddling; "Kingdom of the Blind" takes about as boring an approach to the robot uprising as must be possible, but even those misfires are successes in their own way. Because of the singularly focused approach, the apocalypses in the stories feel much more personal and less run of the mill than you'd expect. Plus, if a story isn't working, it generally doesn't linger too long anyway. The beauty of a short story collection, I suppose.

Highlights of the book for me were 'The Naturalist', the aforementioned zombie story; 'Useless Things', about a woman struggling to make ends meet in New Mexico after a global drought hits home that felt all too probable; 'Honeymoon', about a lower middle-class woman who gets divorced almost immediately following her wedding after she realizes the wedding was more important than the marriage, and ends up volunteering as a human test subject to make ends meet, to disasterous results; and the titular story, which was like a more cynical mother-daughter take on McCarthy's The Road.
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