"The Postmortal" by Drew Magary & pickled cucumbers, carrots and red onions
My favorite movie when I was growing up was Death Becomes Her, starring Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep. In the film, Meryl Streep drinks a potion promising eternal youth and life, but is warned to take care of her body, since she and it will be together forever. Shortly after, she falls down a flight of stairs and her body becomes hideously disfigured.
Dark comedy aside, the reason I loved this movie was because of the possibilities it presented. What if you could live forever? What would happen to your personal relationships, to society as a whole? The movie doesn't address these questions directly, which adds to the spooky mystique and leaves you wondering. And this is why I absolutely love Drew Magary's novel The Postmortal.
In his novel, Magary takes us on a journey to see exactly how society crumbles over the course of time once a cure for aging is discovered. First, the rich and powerful quietly receive the cure over the blackmarket. When it becomes available for the mass market, the government places restrictions on who can get it - you must be healthy and young. The main character, John Farrell, gets the cure from a doctor who warns John that he will never die a "natural, peaceful death." John responds that natural deaths are hardly ever peaceful.
Eventually, tacky Vegas-style theme parks begin popping up, where people can line up, get the cure, then slide down a slide into a fake fountain of youth. These garish celebrations are hated by anti-cure fundamentalists and "trolls" who disfigure people who get the cure, forcing them to live with their injuries forever. Pretty dark stuff.
In Magary's world of eternal life, retirement is no longer an option. The earth's resources begin to deplete at alarming rates due to an ever-growing, never-dying population. Marriages for life become rare, since death may never do anyone part. Instead, "contract marriages" become the norm - people can agree to be married for a certain period of time, and choose to renew (or not) once that time is up.
Magary does a fantastic job of answering the question "What if you could live forever?" by charting a plausible course of likely outcomes leading up to a global "Great Correction." The book's format, written as a series of blog posts interspersed with news articles, makes it all the more believable. It's not a feel-good book by any means. But it's definitely an interesting one.
What better recipe to sum up the spirit of eternal youth than pickles? Once "cured," these tasty pickles can last seemingly forever. But no need to worry about upsetting the delicate ecosystem of your fridge due to overcrowding — these pickles are so tasty they'll be eaten up fast.U
- 2 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
Whisk the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard seeds in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Stuff the cucumbers into two 12 oz glass jars and pour the cold brine over them to cover the cucumbers completely. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.
- 6 medium carrots, cut in half, then sliced into 1/4" spears
- 6 sprigs fresh dill
- 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Toss in the carrots and boil for 5 minutes, then drain and pack into two 12 oz glass jars. Stuff the dill sprigs into the jars.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Pour the hot brine over the carrots and place the lids on. Allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
PICKLED RED ONIONS
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Place the sliced onions in a glass bowl and pour boiling water over them to soften them. After about 20 seconds, drain the onions and add them to two 8 oz jars.
In a small pot, bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil and pour the hot brine over the onions. Place the lids on, allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
Note: You will need glass jars for these recipes. Even though these pickles are to be refrigerated, it's recommended that you sterilize the jars first by boiling them in a large pot for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and dry on a clean surface. New metal lids should be used and can be washed in warm soapy water.