Friday, June 26, 2020

What Plague Literature Has Taught Me About Surviving 2020

There are two kinds of readers in a pandemic: those who seek escape from our plague-ridden reality and those who reach straight for Camus. I regret to inform you that I am kind of the second kind. So I thought I'd share with you what Camus and company might have to tell us if they were alive today. Ok, fine, several of these authors ARE alive today and I'm sure someone's asked them. They've probably even tweeted about it. But that's ok; have a little fun with me anyways. If we don't laugh, we'll cry.

The Plague, Albert Camus

  • Enact mass quarantine, but leave the opera house open.
  • Doctors keep very thorough diaries.
  • Maybe the plague is an allegory or maybe THE ACTUAL F***IN PLAGUE IS BAD ENOUGH WITHOUT ALSO BEING ABOUT WAR OR NAZIS, OK?

The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio

  • The best way to survive is simply to have enough money to wait it out in your country villa with nine of your best friends while the whole thing blows over.
  • If this plan fails because you cannot afford to procure a country villa, try to become one of the nine best friends of someone who can.
  • Invent a new game to pass the time.

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

  • We’ve been afraid of the wrong Shakespeare play all along. It’s King Lear, not Macbeth.
  • And while we’re at it, theater’s going to be big in the future.
  • Airports can be repurposed.
  • Avoid cults.

The Stand, Stephen King

  • What did I TELL you about cults?!

Zone One, Colson Whitehead

  • They will have to invent new terms for the way this shit will mess with us.
  • Look, at least no one’s UNdead yet.

The Last Man, Mary Shelley

  • The end of the 21st century will have basically the same social structures and customs as the beginning of the 19th.
  • If you must die dramatically, do it on a Greek island.

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

  • This all may just be a dramatic backdrop to your love story. So get back on Tinder. And swipe right A LOT.

That's all for now, folks. Don't forget to wear your mask. Or, better yet, stay home and read if you can. What are your favorites of plague literature?

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