Blending narrative and quizzes, memory and numerology, and imagined interviews and conversations with dead presidents on TV, the book dizzily documents the disorienting experience of growing up in a postmodern world. Here we see how the major events in the author’s early life—the Kennedy assassination, Nixon’s resignation, watching Father Knows Best, and dropping acid atop the World Trade Center, to name a few—shaped the way he sees events both global and personal today. More to the point, we see how these events shaped, and possibly even distorted, today’s world for all who spent their formative years in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. A curious meditation on family and bereavement, longing and fear, self-loathing and desire, Between Panic and Desire unfolds in kaleidoscopic forms—a coroner’s report, a TV movie script, a Zen koan—aptly reflecting the emergence of a fractured virtual America.
Jacque Day says:
“What is the shortest distance between two Pennsylvania towns? Towns, I might add, somewhat nearby where I grew up. Panic and Desire, little boroughs, as we call them, about five miles apart, near Punxsutawney. Dinty W. Moore, named not for soup but for a troublemaking Irish comic strip character, dwells in the spaces between in this personal journey through American fear, from the Red Scare of the 1950s through the turbulent ‘60s. In Moore’s equation, Between Panic and Desire lies Paranoia. On a map, a dot called Wishaw occupies the honorary in-between place. Directions: to get from Panic to Desire, take Panic-Wishaw Road due east to Desire Road, and if you want to avoid Desire at the very last second, veer west onto Rock Dump Road, which eventually leads to Paradise Road, and if you’re ready for some deeper happiness, Hemlock Road. How easily we go from the physical to the metaphysical.”
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