You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Monday, September 12, 2011


The Drifting Classroom Vol. 6 (The Drifting Classroom)The Drifting Classroom Vol. 6 by Kazuo Umezu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Several volumes back in this series I was bothered that the elementary school students stranded in the future, their school building surrounded by a desert wasteland, were delighted to find they had a swimming pool full of water for their survival. What about chlorine? I wondered. How can Umezu ignore the chlorine issue.

Such concerns now strike me as petty. In this current installment, our hero Sho re-establishes the psychic link with his mother so that she can embed inside the corpse of a soon-to-be mummified baseball star the medicine the students need to combat the bubonic plague that threatens their existence. The mummy they happen to have found somewhere nearby in their future world.

So the whole chlorine thing no longer seems like such a big deal. I am curious still about certain behavioral traits of Sho's mom. During her single-minded pursuit to save her son, she gets punched several times in the face, although she is capable of giving as good as she gets. But are Japanese men and women so quick to slug one another? To get into the same hospital as the ailing baseball star she gashes her arm with a carving knife.

Meanwhile, the students who claim not to be suffering from Bubonic plague decide to burn down the building containing the stricken schoolmates. But the infection has spread everywhere and it is only the packet of medicine retrieved from the mummy's gut that saves the remaining students.

But with four pages of the book remaining, you know there is plenty of time for something really bad to happen. It does. The smoke from the fire, entering the cloud heavy atmosphere, combines with the celebratory group singing of the survivors to produce an effective rain dance and some much needed rain. Volume 6 ends with flash flooding and quicksand. But at least there is no chlorine in the rainwater.

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