What just happened

Charles Finch

Book - 2021

"A writer and literary critic's diary of the year 2020, beginning with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and spanning the protests for racial justice and the chaos of the U.S. presidential election"--

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Subjects
Genres
Essays
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
"This is a Borzoi book"
Physical Description
271 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780593319079
0593319079
Main Author
Charles Finch (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Finch's precise and stunning day-by-day chronicle of the COVID-19 pandemic brings back all the shock and bewilderment, fear and outrage, grim humor and stark revelations. In dispatches for the Los Angeles Times, this award-winning critic and author of a best-selling Victorian mystery series is nimbly incisive, scathing, and hilarious; his political analysis keen and prescient. From the abrupt isolation, empty grocery store shelves, and lack of protective equipment for health-care workers to Trump's deadly lies, the police murder of George Floyd, the subsequent protests for racial justice, the nail-biting election, and the ever-rising death toll, this edgy in-the-moment account is bracing in its connectivity and clarification. Finch's research into the history of Jim Crow exposes the roots of the January 6 insurrection, current voter suppression, and "how far outside democracy we've strayed." Resounding indictments alternate with personal disclosures as Finch listens to and critiques music, smokes pot, and shares the experiences of friends, including an ER doctor in New York. In radiant gratitude, Finch remembers his grandmother, the artist Annie Truitt. A forthright, sharp-witted, caring, and essential record of living through a tragic, transformative year. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Finch's precise and stunning day-by-day chronicle of the COVID-19 pandemic brings back all the shock and bewilderment, fear and outrage, grim humor and stark revelations. In dispatches for the Los Angeles Times, this award-winning critic and author of a best-selling Victorian mystery series is nimbly incisive, scathing, and hilarious; his political analysis keen and prescient. From the abrupt isolation, empty grocery store shelves, and lack of protective equipment for health-care workers to Trump's deadly lies, the police murder of George Floyd, the subsequent protests for racial justice, the nail-biting election, and the ever-rising death toll, this edgy in-the-moment account is bracing in its connectivity and clarification. Finch's research into the history of Jim Crow exposes the roots of the January 6 insurrection, current voter suppression, and "how far outside democracy we've strayed." Resounding indictments alternate with personal disclosures as Finch listens to and critiques music, smokes pot, and shares the experiences of friends, including an ER doctor in New York. In radiant gratitude, Finch remembers his grandmother, the artist Annie Truitt. A forthright, sharp-witted, caring, and essential record of living through a tragic, transformative year. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In March 2020, at the request of the Los Angeles Times, Finch began recording his daily thoughts on how his life and the lives of those around him were changing, addressing politics, protests, and pandemic but also those great escapes—Murakami's novels, anyone, or the Beatles? As he is an author par excellence—we owe him thanks for his Charles Lenox mystery series, the excellent literary novel The Last Enchantments, and his award-winning book criticism—the chronicle that resulted should be immediately satisfying. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

"Life simple: Don't go anywhere and be afraid," writes novelist and critic Finch (The Inheritance) in this perceptive chronicle of his experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. After he was commissioned in March 2020 by the Los Angeles Times to document his observations during lockdown, Finch logged the grief, hope, and desperation he encountered day by day as the pandemic took hold. From the start, his takes are remarkably prescient: "However serious this ends up, the virus is being politicized," he notes on March 11. Readers will feel an intimate familiarity with the bewilderment that imbues his early observations, as he laments not being able to make certain foods because of scarcity issues ("Will we see canned peas again?" he half-jokingly asks) while simultaneously dealing with shock and frustration at the Trump administration's resistance to "admit the full danger of the virus." His writing inevitably dips into cynicism as the death toll rises, but plenty of humorous moments break through, including his hilarious roasts of Trump's officials, such as "Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo (whom I think we have to take as nature's last word on how closely a human can resemble a toad)." Even at its darkest, this serves as a moving testament to the resilience of humanity. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, the Book Group. (Nov.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A book critic and essayist, at the request of the Los Angeles Times, became a reluctant diarist in March 2020, resulting in this book in which he brings us into his own world where he provides an intimate, heartrending and hilariously astute account of one interminable year.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A writer and literary critic's diary of the year 2020, beginning with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and spanning the protests for racial justice and the chaos of the U.S. presidential election"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

With unwavering humanity and light-footed humor, this intimate account of the interminable year of 2020 offers commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic, protests for racial justice, the U.S. presidential election, and more, all with a miraculous dose of groundedness in head-spinning times. From the award-winning book critic and best-selling author."This book is so funny and so true. Charles Finch unpacks a year of plague, fear, shameless venality, and dizzying stupidity with an irrepressible wit and surgically precise cultural observations. I didn't know how badly I needed exactly this. Maybe you do too?" —Joe Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box In March 2020, at the request of the Los Angeles Times, Charles Finch became a reluctant diarist: As California sheltered in place, he began to write daily notes about the odd ambient changes in his own life and in the lives around him. The result is What Just Happened. In a warm, candid, welcoming voice, and in the tradition of Woolf and Orwell, Finch brings us into his own world: taking long evening walks near his home in L.A., listening to music, and keeping virtual connections with friends across the country as they each experience the crisis. And drawing on his remarkable acuity as a cultural critic, he chronicles one endless year with delightful commentary on current events, and the things that distract him from current events: Murakami’s novels, reality television, the Beatles.  What Just Happened is a work of empathy and insight, at once of-the-moment and timeless—a gift from one of our culture's most original thinkers.