Why spend the apocalypse gloomy around the house?
Cooking beans over a burning sterno can, reading old paperback books by candlelight – that’s not the way to live. You have to go out and see the world.
Destroyed cities! Melting ice caps! Militia groups fanatic for whites! Massive forest fires! Religious sects!
This is where Nyack author Christopher M.
The book, by Harper (Hardcover $27.99) drops October 4. Esquire listed it as one of the 20 Best Books for Fall 2022.
Horrific stories are nothing new – and unfortunately for our endangered species, nothing is rare these days.
But road horrific novels, such as “The Revivalists”, “Station Eleven” (Emily St. John Mandel), “The Dog Stars” (Peter Heller), and “The Road” (Cormac McCarthy), are a thing in themselves if Travels sends With Charley” and “On The Road” as their characters to search for America, post-doomsday books like “The Revivalists” show us what they found amid the wreckage.
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But here, Hood says, his book differs from some other writing. What his characters find is love.
“I really wanted to tell a story, set in the post-apocalyptic world, where people really love each other,” said Hood, who is a native of Montclair. “Yes, they fight. But they find their way into a marriage that means something.”
Its characters are a psychologist and his financial analyst wife – Westchester residents – whose lives are turned upside down, first by a global pandemic that kills 70 percent of the people on Earth, and then by the news that their daughter is isolated on the West Coast, joined by a religious cult.
Their journey across the devastated United States to save it is exactly that – epic. If the wife’s name Penelope doesn’t tell you, you might have noticed that many of the scavengers, drug addicts, murderers, and strangers they encounter on their dangerous journey are inspired by Homer’s episodes.
“Each chapter actually has a direct correspondence with the ‘Odyssey.'” Hood said. “Delaware’s water gap is Scylla and Charybdis. There are lotus eaters in Pennsylvania. Originally I had titles in every chapter clarifying references, and my editor convinced me it read better as a straight novel. So they became Easter eggs.”
It’s quite clear that the global pandemic of COVID-19 inspired the novel, the deadly “shark flu,” which emerges from the thawing permafrost in Iceland to destroy the world. And a lot of the other things the book touches on, from right-wing militias to religious cults to climate change to racism and white privilege, are all talking points for 2022.
“This isn’t really about the future, it’s really about now,” Hood said. “It’s obviously fiction. The world of the book is not a world now. But the book deals with a lot of the same things we have to grapple with now.”
As a writing teacher at the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan for 14 years, he is well aware that teens, more than anyone else, grapple with these fears. What he writes about, his students think.
“My students are growing up in a burning world,” he said. “My generation has grown up with a kind of optimism, a feeling that things are getting better. And my students are calculating the climatic devastation, the rise of outbreak, and the feeling that our financial system doesn’t work for ordinary people anymore. Given all of this, I think there is tremendous interest in what a writer might think imagination, regarding the future.”
Unlike a lot of doomsday novels, “Renaissance” is primarily about characters. Above all, Hood said, it is a picture of marriage. good idea.
Belle and Penelope may be opposites in some ways – one white and one black, one leading with empathy and another a type A – but they work as a team. Above all, they cherish their daughter. And they will do anything to get it back.
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“It has been my experience that marriage makes both of you better — if you are joined in love for each other, how much you love your child,” he said. “But I feel in the literature, you’re more likely to read about a miserable marriage than a happy one.”
The one-daughter couple isn’t exactly a family picture – although he’s also a Hudson Valley resident, and he also has a wife and daughter, 10-year-old Greta and Daphne. But as Tolstoy famously said, “All happy families are alike.”
“The heart of this book is about marriage,” he said. “It is a love story. And this is the oldest story we tell. Even the Odyssey and the Elias, with their great wars and journeys, all begin with a love story.”