The New Year’s Eve picnic in Theroux’s O-Zone is a (very long) environmental sci-fi/melodrama. The year is 2036, and eight picnickers have gathered in the O-Zone or Outer Zone. This vast ecological disaster area was once Arkansas and Missouri sucking dinner from pouches and tubes with straws through holes in their radiationproof spacesuits.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the menu of   Noodle Gluten, Hollandaise Whitefish, Shrimp Paste, Oyster Pellets, Textured Lobster, Crab Strings, Meat Butter, Spinach Sauce, and Non-alcoholic Wine. But they are emphatically reminded by  Murdick, the last part of whose name is a pun, “This is a memorable meal. We’ve got our vitamins, we’ve got our bulk, our fiber, and our taste.”

When Moura Albright, a guest unfamiliar with eating from tubes, says, “I like it. I just wish I didn’t have to squirt it into my mask to eat it.” Murdick corrects her, “You don’t squirt it, you squeeze it—pressure means everything with space food. And use your suckhole—didn’t I give you one?  When Holly chimes in, “We ought to eat like this back in new York—w we’d be a whole lot happier, and we’d live longer.” To which Hooper replies, “I think I could be happy without forcing this parrot shit down my gullet. (This might be said about most of this 600-page novel.)

 

Featured Image: Food packages for NASA Apollo “Atlantis”

 See Paul Theroux. O-Zone. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1986