Cannonball Read Book Square: Funky
In one word: Tether
Reading St. John Mandel I’m reminded of the scene in the AMAZING movie Booksmart, wherein two college-bound BFFs are determined to make up for lost time and live it up the night before their high school graduation. In one of my favorite scenes, best friends Molly and Amy are getting ready to go out and hyping each other up for their respective outfits, aggressively hurling positive affirmations at each other. “Who gave you permission to take my breath away??”
And that is what I want to say to Emily St. John Mandel, first after “Station Eleven,” then when I finished reading “The Glass Hotel” and now, after finishing “Sea of Tranquility.” How DARE YOU be so TALENTED and AMAZING! I was impressed with how she tackled my favorite genre (dystopian + post-apocolypic) in Station Eleven, but each book I have read by her has a totally different construction, so dissimilar that I’d be less surprised if they were written by different authors. Oof, it is simply not fair that she is this good, but I’m glad to reap the benefits of her immense skill.
If you only read one book this year, make it this one. Okay, but actually, you have to make it two, and you have to read “The Glass Hotel” first because there is some overlap between the characters and happenings of the two novels. Together these books will take you on a trippy journey across space and time that you will only understand at the very end, and even still, you will be left with unanswered questions. St. John Mandel has the ability to make you look at the world just a little differently, with a bit more wonder.
Bit of a content warning, because I was surprised, we have arrived at the point in time where post-pandemic books have been published that are also tackling pandemics and presumably written by authors in the middle of the pandemic. This is the first new fiction I’ve read to do that and I found it a bit jarring. Before 2020, I wouldn’t have blinked at a pandemic in a book, but now it took me out of the book for a minute. It’s no different than if I was reading a book about a character who quit a job and I had just quit my job, I’d feel a distinctive tether between my life and the book. The subtle difference is because it’s a thing we all experienced, there is a universality to the feeling you are having, and the pull becomes a bit of an echo and you see the situation in a slightly different light.