The Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker (New York: Random House, 2012. 269 pp)
Karen Thompson Walker is a graduate of UCLA and has received the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She is a former editor for Simon & Schuster. The Age of Miracles is her first novel.
The End is Nigh!
“We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it. We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin” (3).
A Slow Change
|Photo by NASA|
The rotation of the earth has begun to slow. The days become longer and longer, and if that shift wasn’t disturbing enough, the social and ecological ramifications are many. What piqued my interest in the novel is that the author chose to focus deeply on how the world would change socially if the earth slowly stopped rotating. She describes the change in such harrowing, sorrowful detail in a way that makes the story feel strikingly real.
“In the hours that followed, we would worry and wait. We would guess and wonder and speculate. We would learn new words and new ways from the scientists and officials who paraded in and out of our living room through the television screen and the Internet. We would stalk the sun across our sky as we never had before. My mother drank Scotch over ice in a glass. My father paced in the living room” (17-18).
|Photo by Justin Berger|
As the hours slowly and painstakingly add themselves onto the earth’s day, the effects of the slowing are many. Some however, are unnoticed. Some around her, including her own mother, begin to suffer from an unnamed illness called the syndrome, a byproduct of a change in gravity. As the world constantly changes, the old earth seems like a thing of fantasy to the eleven year old girl, something that could never exist outside of a dream.
“Some say that the slowing affected us in a thousand other unacknowledged ways, from the life expectancy of lightbulbs to the rate at which ice melted and water boiled and human cells multiplied and human cells died. Some say that our bodies aged less rapidly in the days immediately following the start of the slowing, that the dying died slower deaths, that babies took longer to be born…All the while, the clocks continued to tick. Wristwatches went right on beating faint beats. My grandfather’s antique clocks chimed their ancient chimes…How quaint the old twenty-four-hour clock began to look to our eyes, how impossibly clean-cut, with its two twin sets of twelve, as neat as walnut shells. How had we believed, we wondered, in such simplistic things” (69-70).
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