Doomsday approacheth! Or, rather, has been on the horizon since 1993, when Lighthouse Digest Magazine created the Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses. These structures, once essential navigational aids—not to mention cultural landmarks, symbolic touchstones—are in danger of disappearing from coastlines around the world. In his wonderfully Sebaldian Op-Ed for the New York Times, Jeff VanderMeer writes about the mysterious and endangered “attracters of ghost stories, smugglers’ tales and shipwrecks,” and makes a somewhat qualified argument for their preservation and restoration, particularly as it applies to his own local lighthouse (doesn’t everyone have one?), The St. Marks Lighthouse in northern Florida.
There is also a selfish part of me, the part that likes to be off the edge of the map, that feels the damaged lighthouse is somehow more authentic than the one that will be created through restoration. This is a place that has survived hurricanes, Confederate bombings, the constant threat of erosion. It has always been on the edge of being snuffed out. That is its natural state—and the entropy against which each lighthouse keeper fought, night after night, before there were no more lighthouse keepers.
Jeff’s novel Acceptance, the final installment of the Southern Reach trilogy, came out at the start of the month, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, and has received feverish praise from readers everywhere.
NPR hails its “strange brilliance,” The Huffington Post celebrates its “gripping” interweaving of science and faith, The Guardian says it’s “potent” and better than Poe, Entertainment Weekly is shouting about it on the N train. Which is all to say nothing of the crazy-positive reviews in Bookriot, Tor, The New Statesman, and others.
OK, OK, enough. How much praise does a book need to get before you’re convinced to read the trilogy that drove three Cosmo staffers to start sleeping with the lights on? Mic drop.