What Just Happened: Notes on a Long Year

Knopf. Nov. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780593319079. $28. BIOG
Finch (The Last Passenger) is a book critic and novelist who recently became a reluctant diarist at the request of the Los Angeles Times. In early March 2020, he started to document the COVID-19 pandemic on a regular basis. This collection of enumerations is among the first books to document the unfolding of the one of the worst global pandemics since the 1918 flu. Finch’s journal entries come to represent real-time happenings in relation to COVID-19 and present a thoughtful reflection on the morphing changes to the social and political environment in the United States. Finch spends the beginning of the pandemic reflecting on the imbalance of power in the U.S. government and on the unique intricacies of needing to buy large volumes of non-perishable goods to avoid shortages while in self-isolation. He writes of numerous anxieties, including managing overfull hospitals and general global unease. He also discusses the ways he kept calm during this tumultuous period, which include listening to Norah Jones and frequently lighting pleasant-smelling candles.
VERDICT This memoir, from a left-of-center political perspective, provides an honest account of the pandemic that will be relatable to many like-minded readers.
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