Everything Feels Like the End of the World (Else Fitzgerald, A&U)
In Everything Feels Like the End of the World, Else Fitzgerald lays bare our simmering anxieties around an uncertain future. The reader is walked through a speculative Australia transformed by natural disasters and corporate greed as fires, floods and pandemics provide the backdrop to stories exposing the tiny dramas that make up our lives. Some stories in the collection lean away from explicitly climate-based disaster, the author instead directing her attention to the abstract—the gradual erosion of human values, of empathy. Alone, these stories skirt quite close to cliché, evoking images of shadowy, steeple-fingered CEOs in front of banks of monitors. However, couched among stories of real human hardship in a world that feels like its crumbling, these pieces force the reader to consider that media profiteering and climate catastrophe are undeniably tethered together. Fitzgerald’s strength is in her rendering of her characters’ humanity. No matter how close some of these stories get to full sci-fi, they all retain an element of realism. The death of a loved one will always feel like the end of the world, even when the world is literally ending. Everything Feels Like the End of the World will appeal to fans of Charlotte Wood’s familiar but uncomfortable settings, or the powerful insights of Chloe Hooper.
Chris Alphonso is a writer and freelance editor from Melbourne.