Monday, July 20, 2009

An unfinished nightmare

On the way back from Seattle, and then again this morning on the train from the city out to the South Fork, I read Dave Eggers' new nonfiction book, ZEITOUN. It's a riveting book, and I can't imagine reading it without absolute outrage; there were a few times I had to shut the book in a fury -- and in fact I wished I'd finished it on the plane, since we didn't get back till well after midnight and I was so stirred by the book it was hard to sleep.

ZEITOUN is a straightforward, reporterly narrative of one family's experience of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. I don't want to say a lot about their nightmare here, since I think it's the sort of book best experienced with little knowledge of what's to come. Suffice to say that American racism and xenophobia are on chilling display, and that the sweetness of the central character only makes that bias and stupidity all the more appalling. It seems a particularly necessary book to read in light of the fact that Guantanamo isn't closed, and the administration actually says they might detain people indefinitely who've been cleared of charges. Where are we? Didn't we just elect a president who campaigned on a platform of restoring American justice and humanity? Better than Bush; not good enough yet. You can click here to read about the administration's waffling Gitmo delay.

1 comment:

Collin Kelley said...

I'm looking forward to reading this. Have you read Ian McNulty's memoir, A Season of Night? He returned to his ravaged Mid City home in NOLA just a few weeks after Katrina and lived in his destroyed home. It's scary and fantastic and a testament to the spirit of the city.