People have long had a curiosity/fear of apocalyptic times: a fascination with what might happen if things really start falling apart. And, recently, those fears don’t seem so unfounded or even very far off. People, collectively, have had a rough decade as far as seeming natural disasters and unimaginable situations go. Smith gives a situation that seems less than fictional: “The Line” has been declared ninety miles north of the coast, from the Texas-Louisiana boarder across Mississippi’s coast to Alabama. Dead land. Abandoned. This is in the ilk of The Road and Zeitoun. Oh, and the recent, very real, oil spill. Cohen is virtually alone in the world: the things in his house are ghosts. There is very little trust left. He has a horse, Habana, and an unnamed dog. He had liked it better not knowing its name and had wished sometimes that Habana had remained nameless so that the three of them, the three stragglers in this lost world, could be as simply as they could be. It’s hard not to make the parallel with ancient times, Bible times, fictions we rely on to wrap our minds around the unthinkable. It’s hard not to cling to something hopeful.
Michael F. Smith teaches at the Mississippi University for Women