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Odds against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich

Odds against Tomorrow

by Nathaniel Rich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Gosh this was fun. It's been a while since I read a book in one sitting, and this was a great read. The writing is patchy in parts, but it's simply a fun story with creative characters and eerily familiar possibilities for anyone living in New York. Highly recommend for a casual read! ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
Paul Auster on Ritalin.
( )
  mattus | Sep 30, 2014 |
An entirely believable novel detailing a possible future as lived by Mitchell Zukor. Mitchell (does he have Asperger's autism?) has developed a very good livelihood advising businesses how to cope with future disasters. He is a genius at data collection and calculation of low probability events, and sure enough predicts (and lives through) two cataclysms, one in Portland, Or and the second in New York. All the while, he has an excruciatingly painful and interesting personal life which forces you to continue reading to find out what happens.
I liked the book so much that I checked out "The Mayor's Tongue". Hope it as as good. ( )
  housecarl | Aug 9, 2014 |
Mitchell Zukor is terrified of the worst case scenarios he imagines, and copes by calculating probabilities. Mere mention of any conceivable event, asteroid or epidemic or nuclear attack, sets off obsessive research into precedent and prevention. After college and a stint at a cubicle job, he is recruited by consulting firm FutureWorld, which exploits a legal loophole: a business that has prepared for disaster cannot be held financially responsible, and FutureWorld is protected by a limited liability clause. Mitchell’s visceral and expressive fear persuades business executives to pay for advice, whereas his boss is too obviously in it for the money. Meanwhile, he corresponds by snail mail with Elsa, a college acquaintance who has gone off the grid in New England, and wonders how she can remain serene when her medical condition could kill her at any random moment. Then an actual disaster strikes, a Katrina-like storm and flood in New York. Mitchell and his colleague Jane navigate the city by canoe, and head north to find Elsa.

I was drawn in by the first half, and felt somewhat let down by the second half. Can’t entirely say why. I would’ve preferred more of Elsa (the initial set-up suggested a pervading theme, but follow-through was sporadic) and less of Jane (who appeared suddenly and I didn’t realize for awhile that I should care), but also there was a switch in tone, from satire to drama, and maybe that was the point, neurosis meets reality, but I didn’t quite make the adjustment.

(read 11 Aug 2013)
1 vote qebo | Aug 28, 2013 |
This is a pretty great book for the culture of weather-paranoia that grips so many people today. The main character is absolutely terrified of every potential disaster remotely imaginable, and he has a pretty vivid imagination so he is magnificently paranoid. Unlike the jabbering slack-jawed morons that populate your television screen (often confused with meteorologists) Mitchell Zukor actually has an ounce of intelligence, he is a mathematician and constantly calculates the odds of any given disaster actually happening, which lends credence to the story and sets it apart some of the more manic environmental novels out there today.

This is why I liked reading Odds Against Tomorrow so much. With so many disaster and apocalypse novels being written right now, an author has to do something really unique to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, Nathaniel Rich has done just that! There is a lot of depth here, and I think the book would be an amazing choice for a book club because it opens up numerous avenues of discussion and could be interpreted in so many different ways. Even if you are reading it alone though, it's beautifully written and the plot moves along nicely. It's really a very well-rounded novel.

What minor complaints I can come up with are hardly worth mentioning when you take the whole book in perspective. Yeah, fine, so she turned the TV off, then turned back and started watching it as if she never turned if off in the first place. Big deal! It's a wonderful novel, so go read it. ( )
2 vote Ape | Aug 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This literary novel by Nathaniel Rich offers a fascinating look at the ways we can cope with existential fears. The obvious, of course, are fight or flight; there are also responses of denial, mitigation, intellectualization and preparation. ... Rich’s writing is full and savory; he lets us into Mitchell’s head but doesn’t beat us over the head. He’s also got a way of making death and destruction sound thoroughly poetic, and whether this is a good or bad thing is not necessarily easy to decipher. When we quantify disaster, do we take some of the horror out of it, or is that something than cannot be diminished? There are fairly good odds that Mitchell himself would be on the side of the latter rather than the former.
added by KelMunger | editLit/Rant, Kel Munger (Aug 11, 2013)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nathaniel Richprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kagan, AbbyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munday, OliverIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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New York makes one think about the collapse of civilization, about Sodom and Gomorrah, the end of the world. The end wouldn't come as a surprise here. Many people already bank on it. - Saul Bellow
For my brother
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The way other people fantasize about surprise inheritances, first-glance love, and endless white emyreal pastures, Mitchell dreamed of an erupting supervolcano that would bury North America under a foot of hot ash.
"There was no escaping math, after all. It was everywhere, especially in nature. You could go so as to say that match was nature." (p. 288)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374224242, Hardcover)

A novel about fear of the future—and the future of fear

New York City, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming.
     As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe—ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters—he becomes obsessed by a culture’s fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell’s predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?
     At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:53 -0400)

While working for a mysterious financial consulting firm that offers insurance to corporations against impending catastrophic events, a gifted young mathematician becomes increasingly obsessed with doomsday scenarios until one of his actual worst-case scenarios unfolds in Manhattan.… (more)

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