Thursday, March 15, 2012

What are the chances?

Last week I read the new Matt Ruff novel about 9/11, an alternate history focused on examining its own premise.

On Tuesday evening, a huge billowing cloud of smoke displaced the usual traffic in photo after photo looking down Newbury Street and Boylston Street. The view from across the river showed the smoke spreading over Boston. People were evacuated from a large swath of the city, work and life were disrupted for tens of thousands of people, a number of roads and subway stations were closed, and there were early warnings that the smoke might be particularly harmful though the government was quick to dispute that (while also asking people to stay out of the area).

Then I went to a show last night. I arrived early and talked a bit with the person who was filling in as house manager since the house manager was having trouble getting to the theater. Conversations as people arrived were about trying to reach friends and colleagues, traffic disruptions, power disruptions, and cancelled performances.

This all led up to seeing the show “Recent Tragic Events” last night, which was set in an apartment the day after 9/11. The lead character is trying to reach her twin sister, who lives in New York and has not been in contact. A show set the day after the city I know was filled with smoke, which I’m watching the day after the city I know is filled with smoke. And it was absolutely creepy how easy it was for me to go back to that time. Was it all the priming and context? Was it the television on the set playing CNN from 9/12/2001 for two hours? Was it the powerful performance from Aimee Rose Ranger? Regardless, I was relieved to return home to my infant son, to my wife of more than 10 years, and to a television which is no longer tuned to CNN.


irilyth said...

Would you recommend Mirage? (Would you recommend Bad Monkeys? I read it, and didn't like it as well as any of his other books.)

Michael said...

I have mixed feelings about Mirage. There were too many times when I felt that the author was showing how much homework he had done. And I would really have liked the first 270 pages to be about 50 pages, and then add a solid 150 pages after the end of the book. But I loved the last 50 pages.

I don't recommend Bad Monkeys. The only one of his I really thought was up to snuff after Fool on the Hill was Set This House In Order.