We stare at our phones. We keep multiple tabs open. Our chats and conversations are full of the phrase "Did you see?" The feeling that we're living in the worst of times seems to be intensifying, alongside a desire to know precisely how bad things have gotten.
Poet and essayist Elisa Gabbert's The Unreality of Memory consists of a series of lyrical and deeply researched meditations on what our culture of catastrophe has done to public discourse and our own inner lives. In these tender and prophetic essays, she focuses in on our daily preoccupation and faPvorite pasttime: desperate distraction from disaster by way of a desperate obsession with the disastrous.
Moving from public trauma to personal tragedy, from the Titanic and Chernobyl to illness and loss, The Unreality of Memory alternately rips away the facade of our fascination with destruction and gently identifies itself with the age of rubbernecking. A balm, not a burr, Gabbert's essays are a hauntingly perceptive analysis of the anxiety intrinsic in our new, digital ways of being, and also a means of reconciling ourselves to this new world.