Monday, April 8, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, excerpt twelve)

from The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis:

In the weeks after the Elk City tornado, Lonnie Risenhoover toured the damage with various government officials. A man from the Federal Emergency Management Agency came through to determine who was eligible for disaster relief. While driving the man around Elk City, Lonnie spotted Miss Finley. Her house was a ruin and her barn was gone: surely she was eligible for relief. Lonnie stopped so the FEMA guy might speak with her. “You know,” said Miss Finley, “for the last ten years I prayed for a tornado to come and take that barn. I didn’t think it would take the house, too.” She seemed to think her reasoning self-evident. The FEMA guy said he didn’t understand: Why had she been praying for a tornado to take her barn? “Every time I pull out of the driveway I’m looking at that red barn,” she said. “And every time I pull into the driveway I’m looking at that red barn.” At which point Lonnie asked the FEMA guy if he was ready to leave. He wasn’t. He was still puzzled: Why did it bother the woman to look at her red barn? “That barn,” said Miss Finley, “is where my husband committed suicide ten years ago.”

And so you might have good reason to pray for a tornado, whether it comes in the shape of swirling winds, or a politician. You imagine the thing doing the damage that you would like to see done, and no more. It’s what you fail to imagine that kills you.

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