Saturday, March 26, 2005

Nature Eats History

One of the things I love about a good mystery is a good setting. Settings are often a character of their own in most mysteries. Probably because the plot is predetermined. Someone meets death. Death eludes someone. Someone meets death. But I’m not interested in any old setting. I love the wilderness or something beyond the border line. Chernobyl is such a place and Martin Cruz Smith’s Wolves Eat Dogs is such a book.

I’m a trained historian. Nobody should attempt the following. Great history books are good. But great historical novels are better. There’s no better way to experience the past than in a book that tries to put you there. Chernobyl may be recent history but Smith puts you in the Zone. I’ll never feel the same way about salt again.

The history he gives you is peripheral. But as any night viewer knows, peripheral is the only way to go. Never look straight on. The contemporary view though is direct. Radioactive. And, in a strange way, prescriptive. As one character indicates, the Zone will allow nature 50000 years to recover without a heavy-handed human presence.



BeckoningChasm said...

Okay, I finally figured it out--What Would Henry David Thoreau Think.

But I think WWHDSD (What Would Harry Dean Stanton Do) would be better for the movie adaptation. "Here, kitty..."

Greg said...

Oh man, are they making a movie!? Cool!