A Plague of Mercies
Publication date: June 7th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Poetry, Romance
A lethal plague sweeps the globe. Millions have died. Survivors are confined to their homes.
Gabriel passes his time in a small New York apartment on the city’s Upper West Side. During the plodding solitude of the lockdown, he observes several strangers in their nearby apartments. As he watches them struggle to survive a world at risk of extinction, he wonders about their lives—where they’re from, what they value, how they’re coping with a deadly contagion. All alone, he develops a vague yet important connection to these people, an affection for those who are struggling to survive isolation, fear and looming death.
Told in powerful, spellbinding free verse, Gabriel’s observations grow deeper and more elaborate as the endless days pass. But when he and a woman from across the street begin to watch each other from afar, his imagination begins to collide with the bleak reality of the times.
There is a woman who lives in a building in New York City,
on the Upper West Side.
A man just a few years older lives in a building across the street.
These two people live at the same elevation,
the same height,
one hundred feet above the pavement,
above the crust of the earth.
They can see into each other’s apartments.
Every night before the woman gets into bed
she puts on a threadbare gray shirt.
The shirt is long and sleeveless and extends down to her knees.
She turns off the ceiling light
and then turns on a nightlight near her bed.
The light casts an amber glow reminiscent of a campfire.
The man in the other apartment wonders if the nightlight
is the woman’s response to a fear of the dark,
to a threat real or imagined,
an antidote of sorts.
After she turns on the nightlight
she looks briefly through her window.
Perhaps she is reflecting on another day passed.
Perhaps she is considering the quality of her life,
or the quantity that remains.
Perhaps she is scanning the dark street for signs of life,
Adam Pelzman was born in Seattle, raised in northern New Jersey, and has spent most of his life in New York City. He studied Russian literature at the University of Pennsylvania and went to law school at UCLA. His first novel, Troika, was published by Penguin (Amy Einhorn Books) and later republished by Jackson Heights Press as A Cuban Russian American Love Story. He is also the author of The Papaya King (which Kirkus Reviews described as "entrancing" and "deeply memorable") and The Boy and the Lake (which is set in New Jersey during the late 1960s). His newest novel is A Plague of Mercies.
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