Reading 3 - Sea of Tranquility
6 - Mirella and Vincent / file corruption
7 - Remittance / 1918, 1990, 2008
8 - Anomaly
At the beginning of part 7, we are re-introduced to Edward, who has just returned from World War 1. When his mom tells him that he has changed he says - one imagines with quite the deadpan - that he had seen some things he wished he hadn't. He goes on to say that this is the "(u)nderstatement of the goddamned twentieth century."
I don't know that an exchange could have resonated more fully with me.
War - all trauma really - is simply seeing or experiencing things that you wish you hadn't. It is enduring things that you shouldn't have endured, feeling feelings that you shouldn't have felt. Trauma is about being exposed when you should be covered and abandoned when you should be supported. And we have ALL experienced this to some degree another. One needn't have served on the Western Front to identify with Edward's words.
And that is why it really struck me a few pages later when Gaspery explains to Edward that "(m)oments in time can corrupt one another." Isn't that EXACTLY what trauma is? One moment corrupting another?
I have moments of quiet joy taken from me by memories of previous trauma. I used to love crowds and large gatherings. After my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan I get nervous when there are too many people in a small restaurant. One moment bleeds into another, corrupting it.
Have you ever been really enjoying yourself only to hear that one song that reminds you of that one time that you got your heart broken and all of the sudden you are lifted out of the moment you are in and taken to somewhere else entirely?
This doesn't just happen in bad ways. Smells remind us of that one vacation when everyone was together and laughed for a week. A taste can take us back to our childhood porch, eating ice cream with our grandpa. We are transported from one moment to the next all the time - moments that "corrupt" and inform one another. Moments that change who we are in ways good and bad.
This is the heart of the human experience - trying to make meaning of a string of moments. Trying to make sense of time. The way time gives and the way it takes. The way it shapes and transforms us.
In the end, I think that this is what Sea of Tranquility is about. It is about making sense of time, and the sometimes porous nature of temporal reality. It is less about time travel than it is about time connection - and time disconnection.
We have done zombie horror fiction. We have done time traveling speculative fiction. Next up? An immigrant story fused with magical realism.
Our next book club read is Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian. It tells the story of two young Indian immigrants in the Atlanta suburbs with a penchant for stealing gold and using it in a... unique way.
I look forward to moving on to our third book together.
A few final questions to consider before we say goodbye to Sea of Tranquility:
In the end, Gaspery is "sentenced" to a 60 year sentence for a crime he did not commit in a time not his own. Did this sentence fit the crime of changing Olivia's destiny by helping her avoid the pandemic?
"No star burns forever." Do you see this as a statement of hope or a statement of despair? Why?
This book was written during Covid lockdown and pandemics are very much a part of the narrative. What if anything stood out to you about the Mandel talks about pandemic? Did it make you rethink any of your own assumptions or ideas about the subject?
I hope you enjoyed this book. I know I did and I am looking forward to our next book as well.
For next time we'll be reading the Prologue as well as Part 1, chapters 1 and 2. See you next Wednesday!
Star: I see the statement about no star burning forever as simply realistic. It does not strike
me as being hope or despair.
Sentence: Well, was saving her really a crime? Yes. He disobeyed rules but he also showed compassion. So, no, I do not think that the sentence was just.