Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fiction: PostaPoc by Liz Worth

I have to admit I began reading PostaPoc (Now Or Never) because of a misconception.

The book is by Liz Worth and the book’s (probably intentionally) jarring design and toneless typography had me thinking it was called PostaPocLiz, which seemed such a sensible name for a post-apocalyptic novel, I couldn’t think why it hadn’t been done before. It was only after I began to read that I realized the book is called PostApoc and  it was the debut novel of an author whose non-fiction work I was already familiar with. By then, though, there was no turning back: I was 10 or 15 pages in and already hooked.

Worth is the author of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto. That book was good, but PostApoc is quite different. Actually more PostaPocLiz than rock journalism, but there are echoes of that, as well.

PostaPoc is elegant and surprising. The language is beautiful: Worth conjures up strong and lasting images to create her dying world. Here from the beginning of chapter one:
Outside, the dogs have all gone wild. Can you hear them? Can you feel them down there, voices shaking through loose skin?
At night their jowls fill with thunder. The howling is like wind wringing out hollow moans from the peaks of their spines, a chill that crawls through all the cracks in the windows.
Despite this poetry, the world dies without thunder. No zombies or blasted cityscapes, just a cyberpunk rendering of what the end might look like, with everything reduced to basics and everyone just struggling with survival.

Young Ang is part of an underground music scene who obsesses about the end of the world. They obsess so deeply that, when that end comes, Ang can’t help but feel as though she is in part to blame.

And then that survival. And struggles. And our own doubts, as well look back with her and try, against all instinct, to look ahead. The end is surprising. Unexpected, yet perfect. With everything concluded, but nothing wrapped up. PostaPoc is entirely riveting and worthwhile. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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