An Interview with the Year 2020

Kenny Brechner - January 9, 2020

I have made my way over to the glade of Years many times to interview successive new Years. This time around, after I stepped forth from the portal and into the glade I saw a site that was unexampled despite my long experience here. The field had withered and rows of ancient ship’s anchors were set before me. High above the glade a house now stood. I made my way through the anchors and entered the house. On the top floor I found The Year 2020. Her finger was resting on a page in a small book.

The Year 2020: Read this before you ask the obvious, Kenny.
Kenny: Umm. I will but first can I wish you joy of your Year?
The Year 2020: Certainly you may, and thank you.
I made my way over to the table and glanced down at the page and read aloud the passage her finger was set on.
Kenny: “And of you Anchor Years what may we say. That the quality of your tethers shall determine all.”
Kenny: I’m sorry to be dense but what does it mean by tethers.
The Year 2020: When the surface of a year is sufficiently unmoored it is the job of the Year to dispatch tethers into its midst. The anchors are visible only here in the glade, they drain the green from the grass here to render their tethers invisible in the world of time below. I must choose to what objects they should be tethered.
Kenny: I see. And how do you choose?
The Year 2020: Have you ever read a passage in a book which depicted a state of being which you thought peculiar to yourself?
Kenny: I have! It is a powerful connection, a kind of intellectual vertigo. which both disorients and affirms.
The Year 2020: Just so. To find aspects of your own internal world outside yourself is an important form of tethering. And when the feeling passes you are more settled. That is our task. My choice of books this year are those to which I wish to tether one of our anchors.
Kenny: Well then! What did you choose?
The Year 2020: Wouldn’t you like to know?
Kenny: I would indeed!
The Year 2020: If you can correctly guess one of them, I shall share a few others.
Kenny: Hmmn. I’m going to say How To Build a Heart by Maria Padian. It is so deeply relatable and navigates complex aspects of identity in a way that leaves the reader both upended and finally grounded. It must have been one of your choices.
The Year 2020: Well spotted. You are not quite the dotard I took you for. Well you have earned a few more of my tethered book picks.
I’ll start with picture books. I chose to tether Foodie Faces by Bill Wortzel and Lift by Minh Lah, illustrated by Dan Santat. If you cannot connect with Foodie Faces you deserve to be adrift and Lift embodies delicate interconnections stretching from one world into another.
Kenny: Well tethered! And what of YA and Middle Grade novels?
The Year 2020: Apart from How To Build a Heart I also tethered Chirp by Kate Messner, Devil Darling Spy by Matt Killeen, and Clean Getaway by Nic Stone. I chose Chirp and Clean Getaway because many people will need to try to save something important to them in the midst of trying to navigate the weight of fraught secrets. Devil Darling Spy provides a linkage to the evils of the past. The shadows of colonialism and fascism are forces with which it will help the perspective of many to be tethered to should they wish to ground themselves amidst the evils of my Year.
Kenny: I hear you. And what of some adult titles?
The Year 2020: You will need to guess one first.
Kenny: Max Barry’s Providence has to be one. It’s depiction of humanity’s subtle, self deluded irrelevance in a world in which humans cannot compete with thier own creations is stunningly grounding.
The Year 2020: Rightly guessed. If Providence does not tether you then prepare to consume yourself into oblivion. Two other tethers I’ll mention are American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald. American Dirt‘s riveting treatment of immigration could not be more grounding given its tendrils of class, morality, and ties that bind which are strained to the breaking point. When We Were Vikings shows that what we are tethered to, and how we maintain our attachments, is the great determiner of character.
Kenny: Thanks so much, Year 2020 and good luck with your many tasks.
The Year 2020: Fare well as you cross my days.

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