Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Love in the Ruins after the Apocalypse, Author Edan Lepucki Asks If You Can Ever Go Home Again

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Love in the Ruins after the Apocalypse, Author Edan Lepucki Asks If You Can Ever Go Home Again

Article excerpt

"CALIFORNIA"

By Edan Lepucki

Little, Brown And Co. ($26).

Edan Lepucki's first novel, "California," is set in an American future that could be just around the corner.

This engrossing book will appeal to those who like the post- apocalyptic genre, but another set should devour it as well: 20 and 30-something match.com-ers, fans of TV's "The Bachelor," newlyweds - anyone interested in the dynamics of two people who have recently become a couple.

In "California," Cal and Frida, married and not yet 30, have left a devastated Los Angeles and fled to the woods. Ms. Lepucki does not give a date or specific incident responsible for the city's collapse, but instead sprinkles details throughout the story. She tells of condemned schools, shuttered stores and sagging houses. The roads have been left to rot because with little gas available, driving has become an unlikely option.

The main causes of this breakdown seems to have been economic and weather-related: earthquakes, rainstorms and wildfires. A flu epidemic cut the population in half since hospital emergency rooms charge admission - cash or gold only. "Petty theft was as ubiquitous as the annoying gargle of leaf blowers had once been," Ms. Lepucki writes.

Some still have means, and they are banded together in energy- independent Communities with border patrols to keep out the less fortunate. Many of these Communities take their names from the corporations that fund them, so some people live in Wal-Mart or Amazon.

(Note: Hachette, which owns Little, Brown and Co., publishes Ms. Lepucki and also Stephen Colbert. Amazon and Hachette have been locked in a pricing war, and Amazon blocked pre-orders of Hachette books. Mr. Colbert was talking about the situation on his TV show and encouraged people to buy "California" through his website. As a result, it debuted on The New York Times' best-seller list.)

For two years Cal and Frida have been living in the forest in a shed they discovered, growing food and foraging, washing their few clothes in a stream. "The Internet, reading, going out to dinner, shopping were all gone - sex was the only fun," Ms. …

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