Author Brad Meltzer’s pre-modern monster tale is an irresistible read

Writer and executive producer Brad Meltzer’s latest book, “The 1619 Project,” comes to light just in time for summer, July 16, 2018. Shown above, author Brad Meltzer is shown in a scene from his…

Author Brad Meltzer’s pre-modern monster tale is an irresistible read

Writer and executive producer Brad Meltzer’s latest book, “The 1619 Project,” comes to light just in time for summer, July 16, 2018. Shown above, author Brad Meltzer is shown in a scene from his book. (Backgrid)

Prematurely, the midwest got hotter. The wind came to life. Smoky skies around Southern California were gone, and behind the promise of fire and smoke, were the reassuring sounds of birds – white, light-colored ones.

That summer, the wave of good fortune may have done more harm than good. By mid-July, the sky was so clear that picture-postcard-perfect images of Wrigley Field and the California coastline lit up with orange sunbeams became grim realities for millions of Americans.

The forecast for the August 14 International Space Station, that week, was off-the-charts red. So the astronauts unrobed and packed for a trip into space. But they would stay at the station for only three days. And then they would be back on Earth.

Meltzer’s new book is the full-throttle story of how, in less than a week, Earth’s greatest prize – a planet of niches – was revealed to be the work of the devil – a twisted world of zero gravity trolls, cataclysms and extraterrestrial races.

“The 1619 Project” is the full-throttle story of how, in less than a week, Earth’s greatest prize – a planet of niches – was revealed to be the work of the devil – a twisted world of zero gravity trolls, cataclysms and extraterrestrial races.

It’s impossible to imagine a book as engaging, stylish, rich and funny as Meltzer’s new historical epic. And yet, Meltzer’s writing is consistently surprising. It’s the light summer weight of “Flash Gordon” and “The Horse Whisperer” at once, and the zeitgeist of humor and quirkiness that made “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” the greatest film of the 21st century.

“The 1619 Project” is an invention of its time – several, many decades before the time of “Inception,” or “Fifty Shades of Grey,” or anything else created over the last 20 years. That is to say, this is not a genteel parable of good versus evil. It contains a street robbery, a gas-for-food exchange, betrayal of a human soul and all the chaos of human failure in the Bush years.

Meltzer tells the story of six explorers from the 12th to the 17th centuries, and those who are responsible for their disappearance. Meltzer, a noted cryptologist (a true-crime author and the guy who wants us to explain to the FBI what the Rosetta Stone means), follows his own investigative instincts on both the fake and the real, the glamorous and the dank, the astral and the junk.

I can’t wait to see what Meltzer’s next project is. “The 1619 Project” is well worth your reading list in 2018.

Anne McIlroy teaches English at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and is the author of “The Geography of Bliss: a Road Guide to the Exotic, the Unnatural, and the Otherworldly.” Visit her website at www.annemcilroy.com.

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