Cheeseburgers, Smarter Than My Landline, & What I’m Reading: The Flight of the Silvers

I plan to break my "vegetarian fast" one day this spring at the famous Hamburg Inn in Iowa City.

I will eat one cheeseburger during National Hamburger Month.

This place is like Wal-Mart on acid,” Hannah said.  “It’s freaking me out.” –Daniel Price’s The Flight of the Silvers

When I became a vegetarian last fall, I was disgusted with meat.  You know that manmade chicken in David Lynch’s surreal movie, Eraserhead?  The  one with creepy parts that won’t stop moving?  I ate some chicken that tasted like that.

Many months later, I can tell you that I am definitely healthier on a vegetarian diet. One day, however, I became so so vegetable-mad that I almost made pasta out of thin strips of vegetables. (See Mollie Katzen’s The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation.)

“That’s really sick,” my husband said.

So I made lasagna out of real noodles.

“Where’s the hamburger?”

All right, there was no hamburger.

And suddenly, very suddenly, I wanted a cheeseburger.  One of those at the local diner that are as big as the plates.  And I want everything on it.  Mushrooms, onions, special sauce…

I wasn’t tempted by a bacon festival on the State Fairgrounds.

No, it is the cheeseburger. The cheeseburger got me the last time I was a vegetarian. One night we were at a restaurant, and I thought, F— it, I’m having a cheeseburger.

My husband, seeing my desperation, recently bought some soy hot dogs. If you leave them in the boiling water for six minutes instead of two, they taste almost like meat.

So six soy hot dogs and 300 calories later…I should have had a cheeseburger (500 or more calories) and gotten it out of my system.

In May, National Hamburger Month, I will break my veggie “fast” for a day with a cheeseburger at the Hamburg Inn.  And then I’ll be all about the omelet again.


I haven’t flown away on my trip yet.

But in the meantime, I have discovered the perfect airplane book:  Daniel Price’s The Flight of the Silvers.

You might not think you like science fiction, but you do.  There are many SF classics, like John Brunner’s 1968 novel,  Stand on Zanzibar.  One of the characters is named Obami, and he is a president in an African country:  no kidding.  I’m also very fond of the work of Samuel Delaney, Kurt Vonnegut, Alfred Bester, and Karen Joy Fowler.

SF is perhaps the “brainiest” genre.  Although the quality of the writing varies, the writers often have brilliant ideas, and some academics of my acquaintance have written scholarly articles and books about science fiction.

And after a trying afternoon shopping for various items for my trip, I needed science fiction.  When a clerk suggested I  buy an app for my smart phone (my what?  I don’t even have a cell phone) instead of a travel clock, I realized I was living in a futuristic dystopian novel.  I am, thank God, still smarter than my land line.

Tom on "Parks and Recreation" makes a paper iPhone after barred by a judge from using electronics for a week.

Cyberaddicted Tom on “Parks and Recreation” makes a paper iPhone after being barred from using electronics for a week.

I am reading a new SF novel, Daniel Price’s The Flight of the Silvers.  This very long pageturner is the adult equivalent of the popular Y.A. novel The Hunger Games, only with a more complicated plot.  Price’s writing is sometimes quite good, and all of it is good enough, and it is absolutely fascinating.

Flight of the Silvers by Daniel PriceAs children, Amanda Given and her younger sister Hannah are saved by apparently supernatural beings from a car wreck.  Years later, when the sky literally falls and destroys earth, they are saved for the second time, silver bracelets clasped to their wrists that form bubbles around their bodies.  Along with other members of a group called the Silvers, they are transported to a parallel Earth where they are of interest because of abilities concerning bending time.

Here is a sample of the terrifying description of the Earth’s end.

Everyone froze as a thunderous noise seized the area–a great icy crackle, like a glacier breaking in half.  Bystanders threw their frantic gazes left and right in search of the clamour until, one by one, they looked up.  The eerie sound was coming from above.  It was getting louder….

Suddenly the tallest buildings in the skyline began to splinter at the highest levels, as if they were being crushed from above.  Metal curled.  Stone cracked.  Windows exploded….The sky wasn’t just getting brighter and louder.  It was getting closer.  The sky was coming down.

Price’s characters are vivid and believable, though I will not dwell on their confusing talents:  Amanda is a nurse who dropped out of med school, and finds she has a special power to extend her hands as if in long cement gloves and (sometimes) stop evildoers; Hannah is an actress who can accelerate her person to 90 miles an hour while time seems to stand still; Zack is a comic book writer and illustrator with the ability to turn back time (so far he uses it mainly to refresh old bananas); Mia is a teenager who receives notes from her future self through a portal; David is a teenage prodigy who works with ghosts; and Theo is an alcoholic whose talents so far aren’t clear to anybody but would love a drink… as we all would if were in their position.

The Silvers flee from the giant laboratory where they’re being studied, and so far it has been an exciting road trip.

This book is pure fun.  Where do these SF writers get their imagination?  It’s the best escape book I’ve read in a while.

It’s the first of a trilogy, and I just hope he doesn’t write it too fast.  That was the problem with Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books.

5 thoughts on “Cheeseburgers, Smarter Than My Landline, & What I’m Reading: The Flight of the Silvers

  1. As a vegetarian for 20 years and a sometime vegan, I feel your pain. Just the other day I said to my husband, “would it be so bad if one day a year I had a pastrami sandwich?” Then the question becomes where would I get the best sandwich? So many Jewish delis have closed in the past few years and yuppie, high faluting ones have come on the scene. I also miss tuna on toast in diners.


  2. Jen, I asked my husband to get me a Wendy’s fish sandwich: he said no!

    Cynthia, you go out for pastrami and I’ll go out for a cheeseburger and we’ll never tell! We’re doing a great job for the planet even if we’re vegetarians 364 days a year. Not the right attitude, but I’m hoping that if I say I’ll have a cheeseburger in May I’ll get over it by then. I do still eat fish, though I know it’s not a vegetable.:) There aren’t really a lot of delis around here but one of them did close recently. What are people eating?


    • Ha, ha, they’re not eating Jewish deli, that’s for sure. You have to admit that it’s not the most healthful of foods though my father made it to 92. In Queens our population is changing. Less Jews, more Asians and East Asians. I love ethnic foods (great for vegetarians) so I’ll survive happily.


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