Virus and the City: Remains of the Day

Did I mention that everyone should read The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel? Actually, read her book Station Eleven first, then The Glass Hotel. I adored both, but I loved The Glass Hotel a little more. The reason I’m suggesting this order is, Station Eleven is a post apocalyptic novel about a pandemic and it sucks you right in. It’s like no other post apocalyptic novel, it’s truly wonderful. The Glass Hotel may sound like something you’re not interested in. It revolves around Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme, except she creates new characters that are not based on Madoff or his cohorts or family. If you read Station Eleven first you will be so in love with her writing you’ll think, okay, I’ll give this book a try even if a financial crime isn’t my cup of tea. The Glass Hotel book took my breath away.

What shall I read next? I need to read The Big Short (about the 2008 financial crisis) for research for the book proposal I’m working on, but I want to also read something just for the sheer pleasure of reading. I’ve started a few and they just didn’t hit the spot. I think the winner might be Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.

A Remains of the Day-like scene I came upon during one my recent walks. The sign says that 20 gingko trees were planted on 5th Avenue in 1960 in memory of Dorothy Shaver, the late president of Lord & Taylor. But the plot in front of that sign was empty, and when I looked up and down 5th Avenue I didn’t see a single gingko tree. It was a little like the last line from Shelley’s Ozymandias: “Nothing beside remains …”

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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