Old and New Americas

It is less useful to gawk at the “ungraspable” numinous essence of the frontier than it is to analyze how the West has been symbolized, and to consider the historical, ethical, and ideological ramifications of such symbolizations.
— David M. Higgins continue reading-->

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Airplanes, Scarcity, and Survival

Heller’s The Dog Stars repeatedly demonstrates its awareness of and takeness with post-apocalyptic fiction and the U.S. post-apocalyptic novel by massaging and tweaking previous post-apocalyptic accounts through its loose epistolary style. Subtle reference is made to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), for instance when the protagonist, Hig, finds not just a can of coke but a whole truck of the stuff, or to David de Vries’s Life After People (2008 – 2010). The fragments and notes that form the narrative of the novel are much like the scraps, the bits and the pieces that Hig must use to survive, which brings us to the greatest vehicle for survival in the novel – indeed an actual vehicle: the airplane. continue reading-->

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In Stasis *

Brian Evenson’s Immobility (2012) meditates on stasis as it follows an amnesiac, paraplegic carried by two “mules” (special clones designed to carry a burden for several days before deteriorating beyond use) across a torn and hostile post-nuclear landscape. The novel thinks  three or four, depending on how you count them, ways out of stasis. Though,  it may seem, at times, like taking on one of these ways out would simply be trading one mode of stasis for another. The starting point of the novel’s meditation on immobility is that of the paraplegic protagonist, who cannot use his legs and is told he needs to receive a drug-cocktail shot to his spine every 24 hours or so in order to slow its deterioration. Oddly, though the novel’s focus seems to be on stasis, it posits a world where one can never be sure what or who will survive and return; indeed, characters often offer one bit of advice when dealing with bandits or the unknown: “Always remove the head” (232). continue reading-->

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