Parasites Like Us

I finished Parasites Like Us at fifteen minutes past midnight this morning, and, after reading a book where the whole world perishes from some kind of bird/swine flu, in some show of irony I now can’t stop sneezing.

It was a largely disappointing book. After the first half, a semi-satire of academia in a South Dakotan town, gears suddenly shift when the whole world comes down with a Palaeolithic swine fever and carks it. Just before the population’s demise, there’s a short interlude where people shoot one another that feels like a poor photocopy of an early scene in the Dawn of the Dead remake. And then the narrator wakes up, to find that the entire human race is reduced to himself and eleven other people.

The last few chapters then just fizzle out. There are some potted plants, some ruminations on death, loss, the afterlife and the behaviours of domesticated dogs. I reached the end and realised that, beyond knowing a little about the Clovis people, I had learned nothing, except a distrust of books with fun covers.

Perhaps if I hadn’t read the blurb, an enormous and comprehensive spoiler of the entire plot, I’d have enjoyed it more. The only positive I can extract from this is that after this bitterness, reading another volume in the Dortmunder sequence is ever sweeter.

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