While Dorothy is directly influenced by the starving of the humanities departments, she is also eager for less material (for her, for now), but also a greater risk of climate change. Smallwood is not interested in a vaguely thrilling, elliptical backdrop of concern globally, similar to the one found in the backdrop Jenny Offill’s “Weather” And other recent books. Environmental crises can occur worldwide, but Dorothy, like all of us, is spontaneously trapped in herself. She surrounds her own mind, a provocative but ultimately depressing place, not a staging area from which to begin useful action. He is “frustrated pessimism, hatred of groups and existential damage that manifests as worthless contradiction and resignation.”
In a scene that is both strange and cruel, he has a fictional conversation with a group of “raft kids” floating around the melting world of the future. “I found it to be back to an emergency by removing fatigue from zagging and zigging,” she pleads with them. “I appreciated the simple secrecy of not being a political actor.” She can tell with her smile that “the children did not accept the possibility of an apolitical life.”
Dorothy believes that people who work more or less in the face of climate change “are not a mixture of impotence and courage but of stupidity or lack of care.” She considers what it means to die in the first wave “in earlier end-time scenarios” – “to burn in a nuclear holocaust, for example” – “current, ongoing, mobile disaster” Is to “aspire to survive, hide and flee.”
Smallwood’s novel is a good argument for recognizing a book by the sole (but high) standard of liveliness and decisiveness of its prose. The basis of the book is not simple. The mechanics of its plot are not particularly important. (Things still fall apart when Dorothy arrives at an academic conference in Las Vegas and proceeds in a more traditional narrative way through the city and its human dialogues.) Its treatment of reproductive desires, ambitions, and disappointments in 2021 Is bold or revolutionary. . But Smallwood, on the evidence of this one book – and one can only wait impatiently – is a delightfully stylish rambler; A combination of an elevated, carefully choreographed version of consciousness. Reading it is like watching an accomplished figure skater doing a freestyle routine. You are never less confident in performance, and often dazzled.
This novel creates a thinker and an almost constant stream of satire, such as the line between being a snob and “being shut off from fear and fundamentally new experiences”; The problem with parental love is that it is “ultimately taut”; Is there anything “niliberal” about giving the infant sleep training. Smallwood’s work comes to the mind of Elif Batuman and Sam Lipciet, for whom the novel’s form can feel like a mere excuse (and precisely one), a pot for keeping rowing psychological and social observations.
This is not to say “the life of the mind” is without continuous subjects. It is a lot of them, one of which is the end of things. Of conception. Of ambition. Of the natural world. Even those things that were at the beginning, and not long ago, felt like the end of other things. (Dorothy remembers the “age of email” when she writes long and meaningful digital letters to friends.)
In Smallwood’s hands, even twilight is quite bright.