Our public library has closed indefinitely, and though I will need to return the large stack of books 📚 I borrowed last month at some point, I do not think I will lack for reading matter if I can manage to tear my eyes away from the slow-moving train wreck that is the world these days: I have many unread books in both the fiction and non-fiction rooms of my own library, which sounds much more grand than it actually is.

This one, however, I’ve read before. According to the receipt inside from Dave’s Comics on Three Chopt Road in Richmond, Virginia, I did so the summer of 1988. It seemed apropos to revisit The Plague.

The language [Rieux] used was that of a man who was sick and tired of the world he lived in—though he had much liking for his fellow men—and had resolved, for his part, to have no truck with injustice and compromises with the truth.


“Improbable Futures,” the last chapter in Better to Have Loved (2002), is derived from an interview given by Judith Merril for a documentary six months before her death in 1997.

I was 26. As an unjustly-mocked pen pal of mine put it, a naïf.

Twenty-two years later and it reads as if it were written yesterday: nothing much has changed for the better and many things have changed for the worse, all along a predictable path. Is there anyone with the will and imagination to see a way out of this impasse that doesn’t lead through the apocalypse?

There was a time, reading Neuromancer (1984) perhaps, or Red Mars (1992), when I imagined that corporate feudalism would be fine and dandy enough to desire. Now it seems entirely psychopathic. Not unlike, I suppose, the stylish allure of Nationalsozialismus (1924-present).

Everyone always imagines themselves as noble knights and ladies. No one imagines themselves the peasant or the slave.