Archive for the ‘Emily St. John Mandel’ Category
where I got it: published new
Station Eleven thinks it’s about a woman named Kirsten who survives the apocalypse. But it’s really about those months and years that lead up to the awful events at the end of the world, those specific moments and events that will give Kirsten something to live for and keep looking for later, when she has nothing. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Station Eleven. I certainly didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.
Mandel made a wise choice in telling this story in non-chronological order. If she’d told us the story in the exact order things happen, we’d know the ending right from the start. Things might be a surprise for Kirsten, but they wouldn’t be a surprise for the reader. By giving us bits and pieces that happened now and then, the twists and turns are as equally a surprise for the reader as they are for the characters. Mandel teases all the connections out at just the right pace, with the starkness and sparseness of a placid planet that no longer has electricity or gasoline.
The center of the time line is a theater in snowy Toronto, a few weeks before a flu epidemic sends planet earth back to the dark ages. Kirsten is an eight year old child actress, doing Shakespeare alongside the famous Arthur Leander. As an adult, Kirsten will remember very little of her childhood, but she’ll always remember the night Arthur had a heart attack and died on stage. This is the beginning of the end, in more ways than one. It was especially interesting, that a character who dies in the opening chapter becomes a major character later on. It’s a trick you can pull when telling a story out of order!
Twenty years after the world ends, Kirsten travels with a caravan called the Traveling Symphony. She still performs Shakespeare.
Twenty years before the world ended, Arthur was enjoying the beginnings of fame. He was still in love with his first wife.