Things We Didn't See Coming
'...the book as a whole is a small marvel, overflowing with ideas. Scary, funny, shocking and touching by turns, it combines the readerly pleasures of constant reorientation with the sober charge of an urgent warning. ..' - The Guardian
We think we've seen it all before, but the future still arrives without warning.
For the wry narrator of this riveting journey, each shift brings him somewhere new-he's protecting his grandparents from the world outside their city gates; he's evacuating squatters before the rains wash away everything; he's enjoying a senator's coddled enclave in the hills; he's being stalked up a tree by a plague survivor; he's negotiating love with a woman who is far tougher than he could ever be; he's leading adventure tours for the terminally ill. Despite the permanent emergency of the landscape, this fractured evolution feels anything but grim-instead, it reveals what it means to survive.
"Preternaturally assured, finely crafted and thoroughly accomplished, it deserves to be read widely."
-The Age (Melbourne)
Given that its nine linked stories are set in a postapocalyptic near future, the pleasure of Amsterdam's debut collection is surprising. Over the course of the book, just about every possible disaster assails the unidentified country in which the stories are set. Floods, drought, mob rule, and a virus that has one deranged character coughing up blood each play a role in the disintegration of the world as we know it, and Amsterdam's narrator survives them all, first as a thief, later as a bureaucrat (which turns out to be not much different from a thief), and finally as a 40-year-old, cancer-ridden tour guide. Among the high points are "Dry Land," in which the narrator encounters a drunken mother and her daughter clinging to each other in a cataclysmic flood, though each is more likely to survive alone; and "Cake Walk," with a narrator who hides in a tree while a man infected with a deadly virus destroys his campsite. Though a couple of the later stories lack polish and punch, Amsterdam's varied catastrophes are vividly executed, while his resilient narrator's travails are harrowing.
The things we didn't see coming
This book makes THE ROAD seem like a comic soap opera! Some clever writing and good imagery, but frankly, it was not my sort of dystopia.