New York City. Sunset: 6:26pm. A waxing crescent moon. Sunny skies and a high of 75 degrees. The weather is too chipper. I crave gloom, damp leaves on the sidewalk, and a chilly breeze.

I’m almost done with Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam, the last book in her apocalyptic post-plague, post-human trilogy that swings between the poignant and bonkers. She writes wonderfully about technology: “As the online world became more and more pre-edited and slicked up, and as even its so-called reality sites raised questions about authenticity in the minds of viewers, the rough, unpolished physical world was taking on a mystic allure.” Will this happen to us? Is it happening already? It’s difficult to imagine a society that has willfully abandoned its technologies. Maybe we can only romanticize life without them.

Atwood also writes about talking with the dead. “But it was a reassuring story: that the dead were not entirely dead but are alive in a different way.” And why shouldn’t this be true? I wonder if believing we can communicate with the ones we’ve lost makes us better people. It must provide a sense of comfort, which is no small matter. Sometimes I look at a photo of my parents and wonder what it would feel like to believe such a thing. Or where to begin.