Thursday, November 15, 2007

Everything I Consume: Aurora 7

It's 1962 day here in the Fuselage…

About fifteen years ago I worked for Bettmann, a large stock photo agency that has since become part of a very large company called Corbis. We had a lot of free time (no web or blogs back then) and every week I would read Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly loved this book. It got a great review (an "A" I'm sure) and they would recommend it almost every week, for weeks, in their book column. Oddly, I never heard about it anywhere else. The premise sounded interesting: one day, specifically May 24, 1962, in the life of an 11-year old contrasted with Scott Carpenter orbiting around the Earth in his Aurora 7 capsule. Other people pop in and out of the book with several of them meeting (or not) at the climax. I'm sick of all that baby-boomer crap and everyone-is-connected plots now but it was still kind of interesting in 1992. Back then I loved thirtysomething and JFK and I'm sure I would have thought Syriana was amazing.

Over the years I looked for it but I'd forget who the author was or changed my mind about buying it or decided I'd rather get something else but I never forgot Aurora 7. I don't know why. Maybe it reminded me of being 25 and believing it was important to read new fiction. Maybe I like a quest. I spent over five years hunting down Horace McCoy novels before I found one. Maybe I felt it would complete me somehow. Anyway, I finally broke down and ordered it on

It's a good book, even if not worth a fifteen year wait. It has this self-referential way of writing that I find addictive:

He remembered the first time he was the 23rd street subway station. It was for a seventh grade party and thinks about how much the world has changed. The Home Depot and Bank of America, a plasma tv in the diner. Because he doesn't drive he doesn't think about how different the cars look and because he takes it for granted, he doesn't think about the computer and software he works on to create advertising for a credit card that didn't exist then.
Really, it's not that hard to do when you've been doing it all week.

One thing I found ironic about the book was that it uses a voice of God narrator who freely goes back and forth in time showing the future fates of many of the characters. At one point the book mentions Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 space capsule as being "lost forever" but it was recovered in 1999, after this book was written. I guess you can use the voice of God but you can't be God.

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