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It's Only Temporary
Eric Shapiro
Permuted paperback $8.95

review by Debbie Moon

It's the end of the world - what are you going to do? Pray, panic, run, roll over and die? For newly graduated Sean, facing the fact that the life he's been preparing for is never going to happen, it's simple. He wants to be with former girlfriend Selma when the asteroid hits.

It's not like she even lives that far away. But reaching the one you love when the entire population is engaging in a final orgy of death, destruction, rape and general insanity is never going to be easy. Sean soon finds himself caught up in a nightmare of car wrecks, vengeful victims, pregnant women, and a lunatic lion trainer turning his animals on the population. Along the way, he finds himself reflecting on the mistakes he made with Selma, and the futility and wonder of life itself. But will he make it to Selma's in time for the reconciliation he's desperate for?

The end of the world usually comes to us in cinematic form, with big effects and a $20 million movie star on hand to bail us out. This smart novella tackles it from the personal angle, exploring the insanity unleashed in society in the face of any physical disaster. Yes, Sean can be a little annoying - after all, he is an American teenager - but Shapiro's tight writing draws the reader into the heart of his emotional confusion and his new, growing maturity. He's also skilled enough to ground the atrocities Sean stumbles across solidly in reality, so that even the insane lion tamer seems entirely plausible in this upended, chaotic world.

It's a smart take on the end of everything, and the only thing that can really be said against it is that it misses its best opportunity. Part way through, we're tantalised with the idea that this could all be a gigantic hallucination, that Sean is living the end of the world inside his own head. Now there's an original idea: but Shapiro swiftly drops this to follow a more traditional narrative.

Slender enough not to outstay its welcome, this unusual take on the apocalypse is an enjoyable read and manages to stir some real emotions. It's Only Temporary is a good solid novella from a writer with real talent.
It's Only Temporary





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