Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trailer Park Tuesday: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.




It's the end of the world as we know it....and we readers feel fine--that is, as long as we have novels like Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven by our side as we head into global oblivion.  Pandemic, social and economic collapse, panic in the streets....and it all starts with Shakespeare.  Here's the plot synopsis for Station Eleven:
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all.
You might think this is the stuff of depressing fiction--slit-wrist lit--but as the trailer embedded above makes clear, Station Eleven is a novel that looks for the butterfly on the battlefield.  I was genuinely moved when I reached the point in the two-minute video where we're asked: "What would you miss most?"  Eating an ice cream cone in the city park?  Plucking a sun-bright orange from a tree?  Dancing in a nightclub?  Or, maybe, reading ripe, delicious words on a page?  Today's the official publication date for Station Eleven.  Everyone should run out and get a copy.  Before it's too late.


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