3 out of 4 stars
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The increasing commercialization of news and entertainment (infotainment) sources has led to a sense of disillusionment among members of the public. As Allan Lieberman notes in his book Coronavirus Light, the “news media is not reporting news anymore” but what they want the public to know. Similarly, the advent of the coronavirus pandemic has led to everyone putting forward their opinion that includes deception and fatuous comments about the virus. He cites the example of a political commentator who announced that Chinese Americans were guilty of spreading the virus more than any other demographic group in America.
Lieberman’s novel is a satirical piece on the social effects of the pandemic in the U. S. As a supermarket supervisor ("Mashgiach") at a kosher deli, Lieberman recounts his experiences whilst in the line of duty and amid the stifling social rules that have been put in place to keep the catastrophe at bay. Picking up my earlier thread of the political commentator, Lieberman, in response, advocates for the nationalization of all Chinese restaurants as they’re guilty of serving “Sweet & Sour Bat and Bat Fried Rice” in their menu!
His comic, sometimes ironic, tone permeates even the contents page, which features such whimsical titles as, “Which Social Distancer are You?” and “The Great Toilet Paper Caper.” Apart from coming up with exercises to let his readers discover their “social distancing” type, I was amused to learn that the term “social distancing” is not a new concept at all; it was practiced in Biblical times, and more recently, when I avoid eye contact or fail to respond to a text or Facebook query, for example, then I’m practicing it. On the other hand, as a knee jerk reaction to fear, Lieberman tells us that the hoarding of toilet paper makes us feel in control of the unfolding crisis, lest we became like animals.
Lieberman’s narrative is not all a steady stream, however. It’s interspersed with donnish passages which largely spoil the fun. A case in point is where he resorts to informing the reader about vaccines currently on trial for COVID-19, complete with their scientific names. There’re also some Jewish words in the story, but they aren’t much of a distraction, though, as they’ve been elaborated on in an “Increase Your Vocabulary” section. Lastly, as I only came across less than 5 errors, I conclude that this 94-page book seems like it’s been professionally edited.
As I conclude, my rating of this book takes into account the weakness mentioned in the preceding paragraph; so, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. Additionally, with the pandemic so befuddling, I’m glad someone has come up with an insightful book that will quell the fear, the uncertainty, and the hype surrounding the virus. With the adage that says, “laughter is the best medicine,” I’m sure someone is dying to read such a piece to heal from whatever ailment they’re suffering from. On the other hand, it’ll be less suited for those with a poor sense of humor.
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