Outside Reading — The Emerald Standard

Seattle’s Virus Success Shows What Could Have Been by Mike Baker

“If the rest of the United States had kept pace with Seattle, the nation could have avoided more than 300,000 coronavirus deaths.” That sentence, from this piece of New York Times reporting by Mike Baker, is devastating. As we endure a desperate attempt to alter the narrative by the doltish, amoral enablers of the lifelong criminal we let occupy the White House for four years, it is worth noting again that the levels of population and economic devastation the U.S. suffered the last year could have been reduced significantly if not for inept federal leadership and the party-aligned sycophants expressing their fealty by gumming up state and municipal public-health efforts from coast to coast. Early on, Seattle was hit hard by COVID-19. Leadership reacted by instilling sensible public-health measures that were largely with respectful, community-minded adherence. As a result, they have better per-capita numbers that almost any other major U.S. city. But I guess wailing about an imagined version of American freedom is simply too satisfying for some.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (2009, English language edition in 2018) by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

This novel by Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, first published nine years before she won the Nobel Prize in Literature, is a terse, satisfying story of precarious human interaction cloaked in the garb of a whodunnit. Tokarczuk is evocative in her depiction of a rural community and demonstrates an especially impressive skill for shaping characters and conveying their inner working through the outward expressions. There’s an intensity to the novel that comes from the gradual revelation of spirit rather than the click-click-click of plot points. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is enveloping because it’s endlessly fascinating.

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