Cursed by Immortality: Drew Magary, 'The Postmortal,' at Politics & Prose

20110831-postmortal-250.jpgErasing the years has been the goal of wrinkle creams, fad diets and exercise programs for decades, but what would really happen if society discovered an actual cure for aging? Drew Magary considers all the wonderful and terrible implications in his debut novel, “The Postmortal.”

Magary, who lives in Bethesda, is best known as the hilariously contentious blogger for Deadspin, Maxim and Kissing Suzy Kolber, among other print and online outlets. He lives to slaughter sacred cows, whether it’s the local Redskins or the beloved Charlie Brown Christmas special.

He brings that same raucous spirit to “The Postmortal,” about a slacker New York attorney who gets the gene-altering cure and stops aging at 29. Over the course of decades, he watches as humanity destroys itself with population explosions, ecological disasters, and wars between postmortals and mortals.

Would you take the cure?
Oh, yeah! Wouldn’t you? There’s no way you say no. There’s no way you could resist. Even if it goes against all logical impulses, you’re going to do it.

And that has some very grave implications for humanity.
There are some big issues today, in terms of resource depletion and environmental problems, and the book is about the acceleration of all these crises. You hear about a lot of these problems coming down the road, but you can’t see them, because they haven’t happened yet. The idea of the book is to compress all that stuff into a very short timeframe, and it looks spectacularly awful, like a car wreck you can’t stop looking at.

You manage to balance that bleak outcome with some sly humor.
It can definitely be a dark subject, so you have to put some humor in there. Most of the stuff I write online is comedic, so I can’t help but have some comic flourishes throughout. It’s just my style. I’m not sure if the tone would work for some people, but when you’re faced with a lot of things that are unrelentingly bad, people tend to take it with a bit of good humor. You just can’t live any other way.

How was writing this novel different from your online work?
I think writing a book is really daunting. If you think about having to write 300 pages, you just want to kill yourself because it sounds so hard. So you treat it the way you would treat a blog, as something you update every day. Eventually, after about 100 days or so, you have a working manuscript. It’s like a big pile of firewood. You have to think of it one log at a time instead of trying to carry the whole pile at once.

Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; Wed., 7 p.m., free; 202-364-1919, Politics-prose.com. (Van Ness)

Written by Express contributor Stephen M. Deusner

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