So Much for That
is the title of a remarkable novel by Lionel Shriver, which you might want to put on your Xmas Reading list. It has two important points to make:
1. The U.S. is a violent, depressing country filled with people who are not very bright; who are, at the most basic level, selfish and cruel; and who stopped being human a long time ago.
2. Hitting the road is the only intelligent response to this state of affairs, and if there is any way you can escape, it's essential that you do so. (Shriver herself moved to England.)
The book is bursting with brilliant passages. Here are two of my favorites:
"There's something especially terrible about being told over and over that you have the most wonderful life on earth and it doesn't get any better and it's still shit. This is supposed to be the greatest country in the world, but...it's a sell...I must have forty different 'passwords' for banking and telephone and credit card and Internet accounts, and forty different account numbers, and you add them up and that's our lives. And it's all ugly, physically ugly. The strip malls...the Kmarts and Wal-Marts and Home Depots...all plastic and chrome with blaring, clashing colors, and everyone in a hurry, to do what?"
"[He] was born into a country whose culture had produced the telephone, the flying machine, the assembly line, the Interstate highway, the air-conditioner, and the fiber-optic cable. His people were brilliant with the inanimate--with ions and prions, with titanium and uranium, with plastic that would survive a thousand years. With sentient matter--the kind that can't help but notice when a confidant suddenly drops off the map the moment the friendship becomes inconvenient, disagreeable, demanding, and incidentally also useful for something at last--his countrymen were inept...these people had never been taught how to behave in relation to a whole side of life--the far side--that had been staring them in the face since they had a face...these shabby specimens of the species..."
"After us," wrote Yeats a hundred years ago, "the Savage God." Looks like He has finally arrived.