Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Review: Everything Belongs to the Future

Note: This post was written several days ago.  This book is truly excellent and amazing, but I think it would have devastated me if I'd read it today. There's a lot of anger about haves and have-nots here, and right now it's hurting my heart to think about any subject like that.  You should read this book, but if you feel like I do, you might want to wait a couple of weeks.

There are so many levels on which to love Everything Belongs to the Future that I almost don't know how to talk about it. It's about politics and terrorism and friendship and power. It's about haves vs.  have-nots and about innocence and the health care system and time.  I want to unpack the whole thing and lay it out for you, but I can't do that without spoiling it (and the slow unfolding of details here is so beautifully crafted that I can't bring myself to spoil any of it).

In this future, there is a drug that halts aging.  If you take the fix--one pill every day--you will essentially stay healthy and not age indefinitely.  But of course, the drug company can charge a fortune for it, and does, and so only rich people--and those who are chosen by them as great artists, musicians, actors--can afford the fix.  The rest of the world muddles through outside their inner sanctum.

So right there, you have a very basic fact that I've always thought was interesting about the gap between rich and poor; a lot of what the rich have is time, in a lot of ways.  They can afford to pay others to do tedious, time-consuming parts of day-to-day life--someone to clean your house and mow your lawn. A drive instead of a long bus commute, a job that gives you paid sick days so you can take care of your health.  There are a thousand little ways in which money buys you time.

This is only the tiniest pinpoint of light in the constellation of this novella's thoughtfulness.  Ask about terrorism and betrayal and sacrifice and you imagine a huge, sweeping story, but this is about a bunch of poor kids trying to make their way in the world and maybe make the world a little better.  Every character in here is smudged and shining, broken and beautiful.

Laurie Penny did something here that I want to talk about--every moment that slides past you in the book is worth stopping over and examining, whether it's the politics and economics of the food truck, or the real fraught intensity of making out with someone so as not to get caught doing something worse, or what it means to be an old woman in a world where that is theoretically optional.  I wish I could do a book club about just this book.

Many deep thank yous to Netgalley for my review copy.

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