2030, A Novel By Albert Brooks

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I read an interesting book last week.  “2030” is a novel written by the comedian and actor Albert Brooks.

The novel is set in the year 2030, hence the title of the book.  Brooks’ does a brilliant job of depicting what life might look like twenty years from now if the life we know now continues down the path it is going.

In his novel, a cure for cancer has been discovered.  One outcome is that the aging boomers continue to age healthily, oblivious to their effect on the rest of society, particularly the young.  The boomer characters in the novel seem to have a slightly arrogant outlook that they deserve what they have and to hell with the rest of society.

Of course this attitude stimulates resentment in the following generations.  They recognize that the good life experienced by their parents and grandparents is no longer available to them.

Businesses have developed around keeping people in comas “comfortable” for as long as their brain waves continue to be registered.  Either the government or private pay or both keep these “corpses” alive at considerable cost but the controversy over pulling the plug continues to rage.

The President-elect in 2030, the first Jew to be elected, Matthew Bernstein, has run on a platform of looking into the whole question of this aging society.  The young are beginning to really resent the “olds” and the “olds” are defined as anyone over 70.

Although Brooks’ seems to meander off towards the end of the book, maybe as does life or even a French movie, the landscape he paints with his pen not only accurately depicts the America of today, but precisely because of that, a very convincing tomorrow, which is what I really appreciated about the book.

In this world, the health care reform act has not worked out the way everyone had hoped.  Because of this, individuals still can’t pay their health care premiums, still get caught in the bureaucratic mire if confronted with a physical injury or illness.  The poor remain poor and the rich live their lives oblivious to even the plight of their own children.

The United States is in debt up to its kazoo. Although money remains the accepted tender of exchange, most people recognize that it has no value at all.  And yet, the rules continue to exist insisting that everyone continue to accept it as a valuable entity (sort of like the olds and the nearly-deads in the book).

In re-reading my summary of the book, it sounds like a rather depressing book, but I did not find it to be so.  I was quite impressed at Brooks’ ability to hone in on those areas that are causing our society to get bogged down.  But throughout the book, in spite of these heavy burdens, there is always a ray of hope for change, in this case via China.  And, in spite of a major disaster, the book does reflect the resiliency of human beings and the capacity to re-build.

I heartily recommend this book for those who might be interested in at least one person’s take of where our society might be twenty years from now.  With our present circumstances being what they are, I, for one, did not feel Brooks’ landscape was too far out.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2012