A toast to the end of the world
Or why getting drunk in the postapocalyptic landscape is the thing to do
John Bear reviewed Peter Heller's postapocalyptic novel The Dog Stars in this week's issue. It got me thinking about what life would be like if everything went to shit. Actually, it got me thinking about all the things I would enjoy doing if there were some sort of cataclysmic event that wiped out most of the population—be it the coming zombie apocalypse, the also-plausible vampire apocalypse, or any of the doomsday scenarios that religious zealots spew forth every year.
To answer this question, I decided to consult a few of my favorite films and novels that deal in such grim matter.
And the realization that I came to is this: I'd get drunk.
That's right, if the world ended, everyone I knew and cared about was wiped out, and I had to spend my days raiding zombie-infested grocery stores with eerily flickering fluorescent lights, armed with a sawed-off—all in the name of scrounging up some Chef Boyardee and Twinkies—I'd probably come home in the evening to a nice fifth of $500 bourbon.
If you need proof that this is probably what you would do too, let us turn to a couple primary sources.
First off, there's Richard Matheson's brilliant 1954 novel, I Am Legend. You are most likely familiar with this work via the Charlton Heston flick or that Will Smith one that included some of the worst CGI of the 21st century.
If you haven't read Matheson's book, I advise you to do so. The protagonist, Robert Neville, basically goes around killing the shit out of vampires and then ... you guessed it, getting hammered. It's one of the most entertaining books I've ever read.
Moving on, there's that great scene in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead where some folks hole-up in a shopping mall to get away from the zombie hordes. And what do they do? Raid the mall's liquor store and get schnockered on high-end booze.
Exhibit C: When the world is ravaged by crazies infected with some sort of ape rabies in 28 Days Later, Brendan Gleeson's character grabs as much fine Scotch as his shopping cart can handle whilst on a scavenging run. He then proceeds to drink it.
Getting back to Peter Heller's book, all I know about its protagonist's tastes for liquids is that he drinks Coke. I already don't trust him.
Piloting the Apocalypse
Peter Heller navigates a grim future in The Dog Stars
The Dog Stars
The future is miserable in the pages of post-apocalyptic fiction. The Dog Stars, author Peter Heller's scenario of what nightmares may come, is no exception. Heller's vision is utterly terrible; that grinding-monotony-of-loneliness-punctuated-with-violence kind of terrible.