The Age of Miracles

I think I saw The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker on some Best Of list. While I do not love Best Of lists as a general rule (how do you rank books, really?) this one should be on all the Best Of lists because it is excellent.

It begins when, for no particular reason, the Earth’s rotation starts slowing down. Days get longer, nights get longer, the world starts to fall apart. Elsewhere there are fires and riots, but we are in quiet suburban California, and people stock up on canned goods and carry on. It’s creepy because it’s so ordinary, like this bit:

On the sign above the Earth, Mr Jensen replaced 24 Hours with 25:37, but he wrote the new figure on a Post-it note so we could update it if we needed to.

There are long bright nights, abandoned beach houses, mysterious illnesses. And there are piano lessons, school buses, birthday parties Julie isn’t invited to. Meanwhile, the world just keeps slowing down. I’m making it sound grim, I guess, and it is. But it’s also about how the world is beautiful, even if you are on a cul de sac in suburbia. (I may be prejudiced about suburbia.) Like here:

After school, we’d go searching in the canyons for the skeletons of birds – they were everywhere, a profusion of bone and feather, as abundant as seashells. We hunted for the last living eucalyptus, which we found, we were certain, withering on the edge of a sandstone bluff by the ocean. We collected the neighborhood’s last blades of grass. We kept the final flowerings of daisies, of marigolds, of honeysuckle. We pressed petals between the pages of dictionaries.

It’s like watching a bleak, drab dystopia happen. I just had to look out the window to make sure the world is okay.

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One Response to The Age of Miracles

  1. Wasn’t it good? I loved the way it played up the changes and how different people reacted to them differently. I’m very curious what comes next from this author.

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