Tuesday, August 28, 2007

B.W.'s Book Report: This Perfect Day

Ira Levin wrote a little book called Rosemary's Baby that made a bit of a stir during the 1960s. Then he wrote This Perfect Day, which isn't in print anymore. I never heard of it until a couple years ago, when my liberty-loving agorist friend Wally mentioned it a time or two (or three or four), always including it among "freedom classics." I figured I had to check it out.

I knew something was up when I had to bid $13 to get a battered paperback copy of the novel on eBay. "Must be pretty good stuff if somebody besides me wants it that badly," I said to myself.

I had no idea.

It's a couple of hundred years from now (or maybe, with some of the petty details changed, it's last week), and peace has settled over the world. Everyone's contented and there's no conflict in the world - well, almost none - because a central computer (UniComp, nicknamed Uni) controls our lives, picks our jobs and mates, and arranges for us all to have regular drug treatments that keep us well. It's a brave new world where everyday life, as we denizens of 2007 know it, is a sorry and violent forgotten memory.

We meet Li RM35M4419 - you may call him Chip - when he is 6 years old and hearing for the first time the legend of the incurables, strange creatures that "catch animals and eat them and wear their skins" and do something called fighting, which means they deliberately hurt each other. Chip is troubled by what he hears, but it's all cleared up when he gets an extra treatment. Well, it's cleared up for the moment.

As he grows older, Chip learns a few more details about the difference between a healthy lifestyle and the sickness that in extreme cases is evidenced by the incurables. And then one day he receives an invitation ...

I think I know why This Perfect Day isn't in print anymore. If too many people read this book, we might wake up.

If you have never read this book, you owe it to yourself to track down a copy. I am too selfish to loan mine out; I do not want to this book to be out of my possession ever again. If you have read this book, you know what I'm talking about.

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Blogger Gospazha said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Gospazha said...

I just ordered a used copy from Amazon, though it's far down in my "to read" queue. Thanks for the recommendation!

(Replaced the comment due to egregious spelling error!)

12:40 PM  
Blogger Wally Conger said...

I think This Perfect Day remains out of print because it's so damning of State policies now being proposed or even now in effect. Its scenario is closer to today's reality than even Orwell's 1984.

Gospazha, move the novel to the top of your "to read" queue. You really owe it to yourself.


3:36 PM  

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