Hello my fellow mutants,
Dinty W. Moore has a review of TDATDA in the current issue of West Branch, a wonderful literary magazine out of Bucknell. Check them out. Subscribe.
The Day After “The Day After”: My Atomic Angst, by Steven Church. Soft Skull Press, 224 pp., $14.95
Steven Church’s brisk and quirky hybrid memoir is partly the chronicle of a childhood spent in Lawrence, Kansas, chosen as the central locale for the iconic 1980s apocalyptic TV movie, “The Day After,” and part Cold War cultural history. Church’s early view of the world was forever shaped by seeing his hometown littered with artificial Hollywood smoke and rubble, approximating a post-nuclear day of reckoning. Earlier events figure in as well: the 1970 bombing of the University of Kansas student union during the Days of Rage, a pipe bomb heaved through the window of his father’s real estate office (though luckily, Church senior had already gone home for the day), and even Quantrill’s brutal raid of Lawrence during the Bloody Kansas stage of the Civil War.
“It’s possible,” Church writes, “that the apocalypse has always lurked in my blood, that I was born into it and destined to always live in a world teetering on the edge of collapse—or at least one that felt that way.”
It’s possible as well that Church has packed more into this small book than any memoirist before him, including not just family stories but historic re-imaginings, lyric meditations, film criticism, pop culture exegesis, and invented conversations with Danny Dahlberg, the flash-blinded farm boy from the 1983 movie. The book works because Church never takes himself or his morbid ruminations too seriously and because he has a wonderful eye and ear for the odd, distressing detail. Paranoia and anxiety have seldom been this much fun.
-- Dinty W. Moore
Thanks for reading!