This week, as Albert Brooks gets rave reviews for playing the heavy in “Drive,” I’ve been reading his novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America.
Brooks paints an alarming dystopia, the elements of which are all in evidence today. Dirty bomb and smallpox attacks strike the U.S., India and Pakistan fight nuclear war, and a 9.2 magnitude earthquake sends the west coast back to the Stone Age. Climate change can no longer be denied as the eastern seaboard suffers summer- long heat waves of 105 degree temperatures. Medical science has cured cancer, which triples the senior population, the upkeep of which bankrupts the country. Our healthcare system grows more widely divided between the haves and have-nots and income disparities grow vast. On the plus side, America finally elects a Jewish president, though the job is no longer worth even a bucket of spit, electric cars safely drive themselves and billionaires fly in pilotless private jets. And thanks to advanced pharmaceuticals and cosmetic surgery, seniors look fitter and more youthful than they did in middle age.
Brooks, who according to Wikipedia changed his surname from Einstein to avoid confusion with the famous physicist, acquits himself well here, telling us a lot about our times with his witty and insightful imagining of the future. I’ll be burning the midnight oil to see how this turns out.