I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man, a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and the proud father of two grown-up children, one a promising poet, the other a talented blues musician. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world, the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11 and a fear that his city, its openness and diversity, and his happy family life are under threat.
Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him.
Towards the end of a day rich in incident, a Saturday filled with thoughts of war and poetry, of music, mortality and love, Baxter appears at the Perowne home during a family reunion, with extraordinary consequences.
I guess it speaks volumes that many days have passed since I finished Saturday and I really didn’t have too much to say about it. It was very well written—the story pulled me swiftly along until the end (once I finally committed to starting the novel). I liked the main character, Henry, well enough.
Saturday made me realize what privileged lives we lead in the developed world. What passes for a bad day for Henry (minor car accident, bad squash game, visit to his mother with dementia, disagreement with his daughter, etc.) is really a pretty excellent day compared to most people in the world. He has a job that he loves and that pays well, he has a wife and two children that he loves, and he lives very comfortably. I have said before and will say again that many pets in North America live better than the majority of humans in the world. Now, there’s nothing wrong with providing good lives for our animals, but it should give one pause, should it not?
Consumerism is the worm in the apple—as we exploit resources and contaminate the world where everyone has to live, can we really expect that there will be no resentment? When we “enjoy” capitalism and individualism and by doing so seem to devalue societies that are based on communal values and on having “enough”? Plus, there is great inequality within our own society—I heard on the CBC radio this morning that the top 1% of richest people will in 2015 own more than all the rest of us 99% all put together. And really, as Baxter, the criminal in Saturday, could attest, all the money in the world cannot give us some things—like our health.
If I have come away with anything from Saturday, it is the determination to be less focused on things and more focused on the people in my life. For years, I’ve been giving tickets to events as gifts when possible—experiences, rather than something that needs to be stored or dusted. I’ve been down-sizing my life & my needs for years and this book just encourages me to keep pursuing that path.
I guess I had more to say about this book that I thought I did.