I win again
I was right (not that you doubted me). In Vivo ended just as I predicted: a workable antibiotic is discovered and given to a dying woman, who pulls through. The end.
I still don’t recommend the novel to anyone as a “good read” but it was nice to sink my teeth into something a little more significant for a change. I got it for free some time ago and it languished on my shelves for a while, and now I can get rid of it. Win.
Meanwhile, I wanted to make some comments about Richard Powers’ story “To the Measures Fall,” in The New Yorker, but the full story is only available on the website to subscribers. Lamez. I like it, but I don’t love it. I like that it’s a little different; it’s written in second person, which is not a strength really, but lends itself to the pseudo choose-your-own-adventure story that Powers employs. I certainly identify with the protag (she’s inexplicably addicted to a book), and it packs some really beautiful lines (“Overnight, the World Wide Web weaves tightly around you. A novelty at first, then invaluable, then life support, then heroin.”), but overall it lacks a certain charm that keeps me from falling head over heels.
Edit: So I came out of the story thinking that the mysterious To the Measures Fall by Elton Wentworth is a real book, but Kosho pointed out to me that I’m mistaken. I feel a bit silly, and at first I felt taken advantage of, but once I got over myself I decided it was my error and not a fault of the story itself. It’s fiction for goodness sake. It’s a testament to Powers’ ability that he can write so movingly about a novel that doesn’t exist. And on third thought, it’s probably not all that much of an error to begin with, since Powers obviously did that to us on purpose, and besides, many of the views I’ve gotten on this post have been from people searching for “Elton Wentworth, author.” So! Onwards and upwards…
I certainly like the idea of defining one’s life by books, though. The protag even makes some of her life decisions based on what she thinks the novel’s characters would do. One of the questions posed to/by the narrator/reader, in light of the terror, perpetual war, and environmental disaster of the new century, is: Name the book that best captures life as now lived. Fabulous question. What would your answer be?