The Sky Conducting
by Michael J. Seidlinger
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2012
308 pages / $14.95 buy from SPD
The Sky Conducting is what post-apocalyptic America will look like. There won’t be as much bloodshed as some of the ‘gore-mongers’ would like. Don’t bother saving all those containers of spam. They aren’t going to prepare you for the overwhelming emotion.
Wistfulness, nostalgia–these emotions are engrained into the present American psyche. You can feel it all around. Feel the longing for the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, but not today. Now is not something to be proud of; it is something we try to forget. By constantly diving ever deeper into periods where ‘we thought we had it’ we figure maybe we’ll get a little bit better. Instead of dealing with the problem we ignore it.
Seidlinger states rather clearly in his book how unhealthy that is. Look at the father in the book. Look at the mother. Are their ways of dealing with the present the best ways of coping with the present situation? Even the son appears to be stunted in some sort of horrible growth, a longing for a childhood that never happened. Only the daughter shows the right amount of separation from the not-so-long-ago past to look and plan for a better future.
I enjoy how the rest of the world copes with America’s demise. They remain enamored with a dead culture. Despite the empty consumer culture we created and despite how this led to our demise, other countries around the world continue to arrive in America to benefit from this awfulness. That’s one of the most interesting parts of the entire book for me. Even though they know what they do will lead to collapse, the temptation of easy, empty living is too great.
The whole book pays close attention to detail. Every sentence, every single phrase, is carefully arranged and stated. Seidlinger doesn’t miss a thing. He fleshes out the characters. For a book about the end it is surprisingly gore-free. The temptation to resort to an ‘OMG look dead bodies inside out hanging from the school gymnasium with stuffed animals stapled to them’ is strong in these sorts of situations. I am glad Seidlinger pays attention less to the actual events of how it occurred (it is never stated directly in the book) but rather on how it affects those left behind, after the collapse.
Seidlinger has a unique voice. No matter what his subject, he manages to focus on the here-and-now of America. His last book dealt with our arrogance in online interactions, to deal with the rise of social networking. This one feels even closer to home as we mature and long for a simpler, easier, and more carefree time. Don’t be so easy on yourself. Live in the present.