Well, I finally did it. I started reading “Wool” after downloading it to my Kindle months ago. I won it through a giveaway over at 101 Words and then kind of forgot about it. I don’t normally read sci-fi or futuristic genres; it’s just not my thing.
But a few nights ago I found myself stranded at the Tucson airport after abandoning a motel room so awful that I practically fled in terror (there was what looked to be dried vomit on the wall and over the floor, and if that didn’t cinch it, waking up to little black bugs crawling over my legs did. I took a shower, demanded my money back and got the hell out of there).
Which left me at the Tucson airport at midnight, my flight not until 11 a.m., no flights coming in or going out, and since it was parents’ night weekend at the university, no other hotel openings in sight. I was ready to break down and cry when a nice maintenance man approached.
“Will you be spending the night?” he asked, in the voice of a hotel concierge.
“I-I think so,” I answered. And then I clutched his arm. “You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through,” I whispered. “A hotel from hell.”
He nodded as if he heard such things every day (and probably he does) and led me to a room called the Galley, which was dark and empty and had long couches perfect for stretching out one’s tired body.
“Sleep here,” he said. “It’s quiet, and there are places to hook up your electronics.”
I thanked him (I swear, I almost kissed him in gratitude), and then stretched out on that couch in that dim room, the comforting hum of the escalators behind me, and after I plumped up my jacket for a pillow, removed my shoes and got cozy, I opened my Kindle and began reading “Wool.” It seemed like the perfect time, the perfect atmosphere.
And I couldn’t stop. I stayed up until 2 a.m. and began reading again as soon as I woke up a few hours later. I read on the plane and I read when I reached my sister’s house in Philly.
And I’m still reading. I’m reading slowly, since I’m almost at the end and I don’t want it to stop. I’m reading slowly because it’s action-packed and I don’t want my beloved characters to die (spoiler alert: alas, some of them do). And I’m reading slowly because I can’t help marveling at this world that Hugh Howey has created. How in the hell did he imagine such a world?
What I love the most about this book is what I also love about many of Stephen King’s work: how in the midst of crisis and bad situations, humanity and good intentions shine through. There are some passages so beautiful that I almost weep. And others so terrible and suspenseful and heartbreaking that I can barely read without flinching.
Still, what an unexpected pleasure, this book. What a strange and odd feast.
P.S. I was in Arizona as part of a quickie visit with my oldest sister and mother, who flew down to pick out cabinets and flooring for the house my sister is having built in Tucson. We also celebrated my mom’s 82nd birthday–Happy birthday, Mom! And to everyone else, here’s a little bit of desert love.