These have been an extraordinary couple of weeks. My home town is still without power in the wake of hurricane Sandy, and my kids are still out of school, making today’s “snow day” a redundancy for my little truants.
Cold and dark as my house may be, I’m among the fortunate—the devastation that Hurricane Sandy has wrought is heartbreaking. My own family’s “indoor camping” adventure lasted only as long as the relatively mild weather. When the mercury plummeted, we left for warmer, brighter lodging with family and friends. My experience of reading by candlelight (charming for the first ten minutes, headache inducing thereafter) has filled me with new-found respect for Abe Lincoln, and most everyone who lived before the advent of electricity.
My older son has missed nearly two weeks of school, so what he sees as astonishing, magical good luck has become a source of increasing consternation to me. I’ve been cobbling together lessons of my own, which are effective only as much as they increase my appreciation for teachers, who probably do not use m&ms to teach arithmetic.
I’ve been doing lots of reading aloud, which is fun, and also looking for books suitable for my six year old to attempt on his own. We’re not in our own home, so “on level” storybooks are few and far between. Still, when I’m not reading books, drafting worksheets, or monitoring the utility company’s “three day plan” (now in its 9th day) I’ve been thinking about post-apocalyptic fiction–environmental devastation, fuel shortages, breakdown of civil society, etc. Disasters, even those for which we prepare, are fearsome reminders that dark imaginings we channel into fiction are not entirely fanciful.
Post- apocalyptic/dystopian fiction is not a genre in which I have read widely or recently; I can think of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, Octavia Butler’s Earthseed Books, a novel from some 15 years ago called Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, in which civilization just sort of petered out, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s Utopia, David Brin’s The Postman ( I think I read this in high school, ditto classics like Farenheit 451 and 1984) I realize this is woefully incomplete: what other books should I add?