To talk about this book, I have to talk about my feelings about the novel The Road. I didn’t like The Road. The writing was very Cormac McCarthyesque and all that, and it was atmospheric but I didn’t enjoy reading The Road… because it was so damn depressing. While it was realistic and well written, it was just brutal. Station Eleven deals with a similar start (something wipes out society as we know it),however, the way the characters are portrayed and deal with their cataclysmic new reality in this book made the reading experience enjoyable. Because these characters were people, dimensional people who struggle with what they remember of the world, and reconcile how to live in their current world. Survival is key, but so is the survival of their humanity.
By now, everyone on the Cannonball Read page knows the basic gist of the story, so I’m going to focus on how much this book touched me. The scenes were so cinematically written that I do feel that Arthur playing Lear with the snow falling down on him as he lay on the stage will be an image indelibly pressed into my brain. Clark, curating his artifacts and thinking of his great friendship with a man who was both an actor both on stage and in life, makes me think of some of my own long term friendships that have evolved, devolved or disappeared. The rippling effect of Arthur’s actions and how he treated his wives and son, and how every action has connections to the past and a hand print on the future. He was like a man who knew himself at the core but couldn’t quite gather the courage to go back to that flawed but authentic person. The comic book Station Eleven and the Undersea get me up in the middle of the night and I end up conjuring up new thoughts about it and whispering these ideas out loud so that they stick. Kirsten, collecting pictures and clippings of famed actor, Arthur Leander because at one point, their lives crossed points and it was at that crossing that her life was never the same again. I will think about the symphony traveling and performing and what that brings to the small homesteads they pass through. I will even think on the Prophet, and while doing so, be glad that St. John Mandel developed him and his storyline in the way that she did because it could’ve completely changed the focus of the novel.
I will continue to think on this book long after I pass it off to my mom, or friends because I’m interested in the message about technology (or perhaps what I took from it and what I could possibly continue to take away from it). We send these messages, have phones on us at all times, and even check fantastic websites for new reviews of great (or not so great–see the plane romance book) books. We are in constant communication with one another and yet, we don’t truly interact. We operate on the surface–passion is often mocked and misunderstood (see: everyone’s reaction to Miranda’s project of Station Eleven and how it’s often ignored or discounted) . After the Georgian Flu, this changes. It requires interaction, trust, fear, faith and a reliance on someone other than oneself to survive. But “survival is insufficient” and therefore, it takes community and a love of something (Shakespeare, objects, other people) to truly live. And now so that I don’t look pretentious, here’s this: