As I wake up to headlines that say the world is careening like an old car with no brakes at the edge of an abyss, I remember that the used survival book I had banked on to save me when it came to this -- Bradford Angier's How to Stay Alive in the Woods -- is probably a load of crap.
Along with practical information that gave me confidence I could not only stay alive but dress stylishly in the post apocalyptic woods, like:
Some aborigines make waterproof garments by opening the dried intestines of large animals and sewing the strips together vertically with sinew.
...were ambiguous passages like this:
The point is: no ordinary problem will stump any of us for very long if we possess sufficient enterprise and ingenuity to have a reasonable chance of surviving at all.
...that robbed me of confidence and made me wonder if the cigars and brandy he was enjoying as he wrote this stuff -- probably with a silver fountain pen, while dressed in a smoking jacket in a wood paneled study -- had dulled his interest in the reader's survival.
So I will have to go with guidance from my backup survival book, Cormac McCarthy's The Road. You would think a story about a father and son walking south in a gray, post apocalyptic world, dodging fiendish perverts and cannibals as they hone their survival skills, would be boring on top of grim.
But The Road turns out to be suspenseful and deep, and McCarthy -- who can pour on the turgid prose until you feel like a soggy stack of pancakes drowning under a bottomless bottle of thick purple syrup -- in this case manages to pull life and hope from a restricted, monochrome reality in a natural way.
The Road tells me I will have to do some horrible things to survive, like bushwhacking bushwhackers before they bushwhack me, and mating with hill country Jezebels with enough inbred genetic damage to make sure our Jethro spawn are dim witted enough to want to survive a sooty hell on earth.
And it tells me that after this house of cards collapses, with any luck, we will meet again in the grayness of spring, perhaps on the Gulf Coast, where we will find a boat.
It will be years before the smoke clears, but the sail will hold, the wind will know the way, and before long we can start over fresh, free of fiends. (Except for those stowed in our genes.)