Artist and author Darryl Lauster reflects on three books in which he finds new meaning after these months spent in quarantine.
J.M. Coetzee, 2013, The Childhood of Jesus
This haunting novel is eerily relevant in our unsettling virulent reality. Its sparse tense language illuminates a surreal landscape in which individuals navigate desolation in search of hope, all the while shadowed by foreboding and authoritarian references. Quite frankly, this may be the best novel I've ever read, and one which, upon finishing, I could not easily contextualize. It is both timeless and placeless, dream-like and real. Coetzee, a Nobel laureate, is a master of words like Rodin is a master of bronze.
Carolyn Forshe, 1994, Angel of History
Arguably America's greatest living poet, Forsche offers moving and emotive poems that examine memory and mortality against a backdrop of various contemporary brutalities. Reading her poems leaves one with the affirmation that humanity will triumph over destruction, and that our empathy is greater than our hatred.
Phillip Roth, 2006, Everyman
"The tragedy of a man being unprepared for death is the tragedy of every man"
When Roth died in 2018, I challenged myself to read every book he had written. Everyman was one of the first I read, and it continues to be one of my favorites. Roth has the ability to write in such a way that he disarms his readers into becoming as vulnerable as his protagonists. This novel reaches out from the grave and shares the desires and failures of an all too familiar existence that, despite all efforts, is one of dubious accomplishment, reminding us that our ultimate legacies are subject to parsing only by the living.