Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Book Illness Alert!

I have recently contracted a severe case of Pfefferitis and thought I should warn you all against what could very well become a raging epidemic of the disease . . . if you haven't contracted it already.

An intense 337-page inflammation of the mind and heart, caused by reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer; inability to stop talking about reading Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer; constant low-level concern about one's own survival in case of lunar disturbance.

Progress of Disease
Stage 1: Crack open book. Start reading about the pleasantly normal life of 16-year-old Miranda, who lives in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Stage 2: In the book, the moon is knocked off kilter by an asteroid, and giant tsunamis (drawn by the moon's gravitational pull) swallow both coasts. Realize you live on the coast, and thus, in the book, you would now be dead. Gulp. However, Miranda is still alive, and so you keep reading to see how she and her family survive.

Stage 3: Miranda and all her family join a mass ransacking of a grocery store. Picture this same scene in a New York City grocery store. Gulp again. Plan to start stocking up on canned goods now, and also procuring water-purification tablets and kung fu lessons. This resolution increases in inverse proportion to the family's food supply over the months that follow.

Stage 4: Holy freaking wombats! Volcanoes have sprung up near Montreal, literally pulled out of the earth by the moon! Could that actually happen? That couldn't actually happen. But the ash from the many new volcanoes brings on a new mini ice age, and the family must burn their stockpile of wood to stay warm. Note to self: Ask landlord to install wood-burning stove in apartment, or failing that, research likelihood of volcanoes in Brooklyn.

Stage 5: Give up regular life; let dishes rot; finish book.

Stage 6: Feel renewed appreciation of life, electricity, family, sunshine, and chocolate.

Only known cure: Finish reading book, then purchase a gallon of water and three tins of canned tuna. Store all five items in a safe place. Also -- because this should be a part of every prescription -- eat chocolate.

Highly contagious, whether by person-to-person or book-to-person contact. In fact, you may have been infected just reading this. If so, do not panic! Clear your schedule, proceed calmly to your nearest bookstore/library . . . and watch out for sprouting volcanoes.


  1. You know what Hank Williams Jr. says: country folks can survive.

    That book sounds like a fun time. Sign me up.

  2. I KNOW! That's how I felt when I listened to the audiobook last month (given I drive on my half-hour commute, it's the easiest way to keep up with new books). I had to have a supply of chocolate in the car with me whenever I listened. I felt like eating at McDonald's a lot--all the things Miranda can't do. :)

    Pfeffer really did a great job of throwing in complication after complication, didn't she? Yikes! (And I had similar thoughts about living on the coast. Apparently Seattle was frozen to death or swamped by a tsunami? I can't remember.)

  3. Pfeffer is working on a companion book called The Dead & the Gone which takes place during the same time period, but in New York City (upper west side mostly).

  4. Pfefferitis is only treatable by eating chocolate. Dark or light, it is your choice but absolutely NO coconut! That makes the symptoms worse. There is no cure, but telling other people to read the book makes you feel better. I wanna know what happens to Miranda!

  5. The worst part? About the time you've recovered you hear about the companion novel that's coming out very soon. There's no hope for you then, my friend. No hope at all.

  6. I read that book last week and have also been visited by the urge to buy large quantities of canned foods and plant a garden.

  7. I also listened to the book on MP3 while walking, and found that I pretty much always had to eat something as soon as I came home. But I did walk a lot more than I would have otherwise, so that was healthy. I can't wait for the companion book. I hope that she writes dozens.

  8. Cheryl, just wanted to say that I love your term Pfefferitis, and I'm going to refer to it on a What I'm Editing now piece for PW. I will get you a galley of The Dead & the Gone when it's ready!