God bless the mail carrier who soldiered on, risking the coronavirus and the anguish of sirens and death that overtook my Upper West Side neighborhood this spring, to bring this doorstop of a novel to my apartment building—along with an absentee-ballot vote-by-mail form. I mean truly, God bless her. And while we’re at it, long live the United States Postal Service!
The book was just what the doctor ordered. I’d spent much of March self-isolating through a gnarly bout with the virus, and re-entered the world wobbly and weak, heartsick and fried, with the attention span of a gnat. Then, behold: Utopia Avenue, the ninth novel by David Mitchell, author previously of Cloud Atlas and twice short-listed for the Booker Prize. All 592 pages weighed appealingly heavy in my hands, a promise to take my mind off shapeless, scary days, even though the first chapter is titled “Abandon Hope.”