In Memory of Central Park 1853-2022.
The years of the Bush administration must have been such a bittersweet time for artists. On one hand, there was such a plethora of craziness to write about. On the other hand, you’ve really got to put yourself out there in order to get ahead of the dystopic ball they started rolling.
Queenelle Minet places her novel just slightly ahead of this giant mess we’re all in, allowing herself to imagine a world fifty years in the future, where, evidently, we’ve kept electing more of the same kind of government and have at last gotten the world we deserve.
In Memory of Central Park looks at life in New York City in the mid 21st century, where city dwellers have finally let terror get the best of them and have literally pulled a giant dome over their heads and retreated, turtle-like, into a fear-based shell. After the complete economic collapse of the United States (please Barack Hussein Jesus Obama, please fix everything), New York secedes from the union and hides, filling the inside of the shell with wall to wall buildings, eliminating cars and roads. New York has become an anthill, and life continues to team in a series of fluorescent-lit corridors. There is a one-party government, the Liberty Party, whose corrupt cronyism is enforced by wandering groups of thugs called the Patriots, similar to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry for the Protection of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, who wander the streets beating everyone who seems insufficiently patriotic.
Free speech, while not illegal, is still discouraged by the mysterious murders of those who oppose the government. Citizens, on grounds of preventing terrorist attacks, are no longer allowed to leave the city or communicate with the outside world. All information from the rest of the world is filtered through the fear-mongering government and tolerated by a population who values safety over freedom. Amidst all this, in one small section of the ant farm, a therapist named Noah dysfunctionally falls in love with his sister-in-law, Margaret. His love for Margaret awakes him to the realization that he has been numb to the realities around him, and for the first time begins to pay attention to the writing on the wall that spells out doom for their corrupt, claustrophobic way of life.
Joined in his burgeoning awareness are his professional colleague and friend, Phillipe, Margaret, and Appoppa, the boyfriend of his favorite client, Amy. Noah is drawn to the tough Amy, one of many New Yorkers falling deathly ill to a mysterious disease that seems to strike only those who live outside the walled-off neighborhood of the Party elite, who live in tall buildings erected on the place where Central Park used to be. In their quest to uncover the source of the illness, Noah, Margaret, Phillipe, and Appoppa inch closer to what will be either their salvation or their doom. Either way, there is no turning back.
In Memory of Central Parkwas based on a rough draft and series of ideas by Minet’s late husband Aron Spilken. According to the book’s prologue, Minet felt that “picking up where he left off with In Memory of Central Park allowed [her] to continue collaborating with him despite his death.” She seems to have blended their voices quite well, because the narrative flows fairly smoothly. In Memory of Central Park has a ring of truth to it, not because of her ability to exploit liberal fears but because of the strength of character she builds in everyman, Noah. His reluctance to take a stand is a small flame that burns in many of us; the urge to just keep your head down and take whatever happiness and contentment you can find. Life without sunshine, plants, animals, or trees isn’t that unbearable, after all, he’s got a room to sleep in, friends, food, and a good job. Best not to rock the boat and risk it all. Of course, rock the boat is what he must do, because there is also a small flame that burns in all of us that is not happy living in a world without liberty, and we all must choose which flame burns hotter and brighter.
In Memory of Central Park 1863-2002
By Queenelle Minet
September, 2008 by Synergy Books
Sunday, February 22, 2009
In Memory of Central Park 1853-2022.