Stories from the unformed, undated pandemic blur are starting to show up in fiction. Two of my recent reads were both set from the beginning of the lockdown requirements, one in England, one in the US. The first is the latest installment of Elly Griffith’s terrific Ruth Galloway series. (My husband is reading these right now and has barely come up for air!) When I began reading The Locked Room I wasn’t sure I wanted to delve into that weird time. I was surprised by my reaction. But as I got into it I noted that it was helpful to fictionalize the experience, and I appreciated how Elly Griffiths did that.
The other book is The Sentence by Louis Erdrich. I always think that reading Erdrich is like sitting beside a gently flowing river; it just flows along with such beautiful writing. The Sentence is no exception. It’s the only book Erdrich has written in the present, and it is wonderful. The pandemic is like a background character for the story, and the story itself described everything from ghosts to the struggles of a small bookstore and the daily lives of its staff. It also takes place during the terrible killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and chronicles the participation in grief and solidarity of the tribal people of that city.
Both these books offer perspective on the unusual time in which we are still living, and they are great reads!