In this intense and gorgeous braided essay, Alyssa Harad contemplates the end of the world, alternatives to catastrophe narratives, and the many small endings that occur each day, everywhere, to everyone and everything.
It’s that tsunami siren and its relationship to the rest of the novel that haunts me now. Situated in the deep background, framing the whole but continually breaking through into the present, it offers a way to think about the end of the world not as a singular explosive event—something true only from the long view of geological time—but as a Chinese box or a matryoshka doll. In a time of climate emergency we live in a series of nested crises. When we emerge from one, the larger one is always there waiting for us. And inside the big troubles—the global rise of fascism, a kleptocratic presidency, white supremacist police violence, concentration camps on our southern border, a pandemic—the smaller crises of ordinary human life continue—a broken heart, a sick child, the rent falling due—all of it framed, structured, intensified, and continually interrupted by the ongoing alarm of the climate crisis.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.