Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel West is all about what happened to Mitchell Zukor after college. After living through a disaster in Seattle, Mitchell is predicting what the future will cost the corporation housed in the Empire State Building if a disaster strikes that building. Disasters cripple corporations and a new mind think has to be developed that saves corporations from liability.
Mitchell is working in and living in a world of fear, FutureWorld, a new industry in nightmare analysis. That is he represents a company that thrives on the fear of others to make money. He is back in contact with a young woman, Elsa, from his college days and whom he saved from dying from a rare disease, Brugada. She is now on a farm in Maine while he is in NYC. They are exchanging mail, since she has no other means of communicating from remote Maine. “Elsa was like an alien who beamed into his office once or twice a week with bulletins from a planet in some distant solar system where laws of gravity didn’t exist. Down was up, dark was light, and no one was afraid of anything. She lived suspended in a permanent condition of hopeful, childlike, brainless bliss.” His job reminds me of a Bosch painting, anyone of them.
A new hire Jane. She has Mitchell’s skills and is a great candidate to be the company’s Cassandra. “FutureWorld,” said Mitchell. “It’s a matter of death and death.” “FutureWorld,” said Jane. “Every silver lining has a cloud.” Just on schedule a “terrorist” storm hits NYC and Mitchell and company hit it big or do they? Tammy was a deluge and when it was over, he as sternman and she as bowwoman paddled the Psycho canoe artwork up Third Avenue to Bennett Park. I’ve always dreamt of something bizarre like this when I lived in NYC. I always had my survival stuff, camping gear, and provisions ready for the worst.
Reading this book during a few very hot and humid days in an air-conditioned house made me a believer in what Mitchell sold. Then it rained, it pored.I loved this book because I've always lived my life with this catastrophe around the corner on my mind and as part of my life. I'm prepared.
Now it’s time to reread Cormac’s The Road.