Texan Lawyer Cats and the Fall of Facebook: 2021 in Books
January 16th 2022
2021 has been a big year. I imagine that like many people the overhang of Covid, vaccines, case numbers and disease related news has made the last 18 months something of a blur. But there have been some big events this year! Here are some of the most memorable moments of 2021 and an appropriate literary accompaniment.
The Downfall of Facebook
On October 4th (Mean Girls fans rejoice) the world went dark. Or at least the world of social media. Facebook - the unassailable giant of data and technology was briefly powerless and Twitter joyfully welcomed ‘literally everyone’ back onto the platform. Bereft of the usual bevy of social media for seven long hours, left plenty of time to reflect on our reliance on the not so benevolent techy overlords of our time.
A 2021 fictional dystopia to remember this dystopian moment is called for. Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind is the perfect text.
A white family retreat into the woods for an idyllic holiday, away from the distractions of the city and their phones. When a Black couple show up on their doorstep bringing troubling news and claiming to own the house and seeking refuge, there is no social media to fall back on to find out the truth, and the veracity of the impending apocalypse they bring news of remains unclarified.
The blocking of the Suez channel by the mighty Ever Given.
For a brief moment in March of 2021 the world became utterly obsessed with a boat. Some of the best memes of the year were created as the gigantic cargo ship Ever Given lodged in the Suez channel, blocking an essential trade route in Egypt and holding up hundreds of ships transporting goods to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Never before has a trade ship received such attention - never has there been more of a girl boss as the unparalleled queen - Ever Given.
In honour of this absolute girl boss, Murder on Mustique is the go to read. Set on Mustique - playground of the elite - paradise quickly transforms into something more dangerous.
Exit of Meghan and Harry from the royal family
Everyone had something to say about this particular moment of British history. For some it was a shock, for others it was very much in the realms of the expected. But monarchist or abolitionist, this was a moment in royal history that none of us could ignore. The royal family got rightfully called out, Piers Morgan was sent out on his arse and the royal family are down two important members.
Natasha Brown’s searing debut, Assembly, is a must read for anyone interested in examining British narratives of race and the long lingering colonial values that makes the royal family an impossible place for a woman of colour to exist.
A historic moment in British history! A date we will not forget! This was set to be the date of the lifting of restrictions in Britain to unlock the summer of all summers. As with everything in Britain, the date itself was late, and restrictions were not in fact lifted until July 19th, but in my mind June 21st was the end of lockdown. The date that allowed me to turn the strangeness of drinking take out pints from milk bottles (as my local pub was serving them), and the desperate scramble to work out what counted as a substantial meal at the local pub (a £5 sausage roll and chips) into a memory.
In honour of the strangeness that has continued to stalk 2021, the literary pick has got to be my favourite short story collection of the year, the near future apocalyptic visions of My Monticello.
Last but not least, in my opinion, the absolute crowning moment of 2021:
Texas lawyer’s, kitten zoom mishap
Back in February of 2021, we’d really had enough experience of zoom meetings that we should have had an understanding of the basics of the tool. Rod Ponton used his secretary’s computer to join a judicial hearing as a representative of the state of Texas. Unfortunately it was not Rod’s face that appeared on screen, but that of a very fluffy kitten. The only hint that all was not well for the kitten was the imploring, desperation filled eyes darting around the screen, as Rod’s panicked voice announced ‘I’m here live. I’m not a cat’.
Dermot O’Leary’s fun filled adventure of a team of Scottish ninja cats who have been sent to kitty bootcamp in the Scottish highlands is the perfect adventure story for to remember Rod and his kitty adventuring.
Happy New Year!