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Slush Pile: A book, reviewed

ENDGAME
by Samuel Beckett

translated from the French
by Samuel Beckett
Grove Atlantic
$8.55 (paper)

Finally, in Samuel Beckett, we have our poet-laureate of climate change. For decades now, the melting of the ice caps has elicited hardly a word from our literary artists. But President Trump’s abandonment of the Paris Climate Accords appears to have been the final straw. A few months after the polluter-in-chief announced that he stands with the people of “Pittsburgh, not Paris,” comes the suitably titled Endgame, in which there is no Pittsburgh and no Paris, only a boat-like vessel bearing four figures across humanity’s watery grave—a condition where, as the character named Clov puts it at the beginning, everything is “finished, nearly finished.”

The play, by the Irish cartoonist Samuel Beckett, opens with two men—one blind and in a wheelchair, the other unable for some reason to sit down (perhaps he is too hot). Hamm and Clov, as they are called, appear to be sensible people. Undoubtedly, had they been able to vote they would have been With Her. Their dialogue offers a vivid reminder of the predicament faced by thoughtful citizens in Trump’s America. “This is not much fun,” says Hamm, before asking, “What’s happening?” “Something is taking its course,” Clov responds.

Something is, we in the audience perceive, taking its course: But what?

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