How the Dead Dream
Recommended somewhere on the interweb. I quite enjoyed it, though I thought it weakened a bit towards the end. A bit satirical, a bit absurdist, a bit commentary on conservation, among other things. Plus an interesting mix of stylized and raw.
I thought this a very succinct summary of one area of human relationships:
“Cut loose from a certain idea of duty, it turned out, individuals did no great deeds but only drifted apart.”
And I thought this section of the protagonist’s thoughts about zoo animals summed up civilizations — theirs and ours — quite nicely:
“He wished he knew if they got impatient. Expectation struck him as a human impulse, but then he thought of his dog. Her days were entirely given over to expectation, it seemed to him. Waiting for a feeding the animals paced or swam or leapt from branch to branch, as their natures dictated, with a bat from now and then at a so-called enrichment tool or a peck at an errant insect. Their lives were simple monotony. They slept to use up time; this was how their days were spent, the last sons and daughters.
In the wild, he thought, there would be almost no waiting. Waiting was what happened to you when you lost control, when events were out of your hands or our freedom was taken from you; but in the wild there would always be trying. In the wild there must be trying and trying, he thought, and no waiting at all. Waiting was a position of dependency. Not that animals in the wild were not watchful, did not have to freeze in place, alert and unmoving — they must do so often — but it would hardly be waiting then. It would be more like pausing.”