“It would be like ‘The Road,’ ” one publishing executive in New York said, half-jokingly, referring to the Cormac McCarthy novel. “The post-apocalyptic world of publishing, with publishers pushing shopping carts down Broadway.”
This quote in a recent New York Times article (“The Bookstore’s Last Stand,” by Julie Bosman) reminded me of a short story written way back in 2009, by a very prescient Booklist editor named . . . Keir Graff. (Hey, any excuse to repurpose content, right?) For another vision of a post-apocalyptic world, with a book reviewer pushing a shopping cart through Chicago, read The Read.
In the dream he knelt beside a vast and craven crater. The crater filled with bookwrack. Boards. Paper. Words. The words unadhorn from the pages and falling to letters. Broken bookshelves. Card catalogs filled with dust. That not burned had been drowned. Stewy char. The shorelaps of the polluted waters a sickly susurrus. The world come unbooked and never to be read again.
With no apologies whatsoever to Cormac McCarthy. He’s done quite well by Booklist.