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The Observable Universe

Heather McCalden More by this author...£14.99Out 21 March 2024

Please note this title will be released in March 2024 – but you can pre-order it with Lighthouse today!

In the early 1990s, Heather McCalden lost her parents to AIDS. She was seven when her father died; ten when she lost her mother. Los Angeles, where she grew up with her grandmother Nivia, was ‘ground zero’ for the virus and its destruction. Years later, she started researching the history of the HIV virus as a way to deal with her loss, leading her to the realization that AIDS and the internet developed on parallel timelines. By accumulating whatever fragments she could on both – images, anecdotes, and scientific entries – alongside her own family’s personal history, McCalden forms a synaptic journey of what happened to her family, one that leads to an equally unexpected discovery about who her parents might have been.

Simultaneously interrogating what it means to ‘go viral’ in an era of explosive biochemical and virtual contagion, The Observable Universe travels along the fissures of a hyperconnected world, entwining the technological and the personal, the virus and the viral, moving from musings on Raymond Chandler and film noir to contemporary malaise and late-night Netflix binges with propulsive agility and poetic attunement. At once a history of ‘viral culture,’ an ode to L.A., and a memoir of loss and reckoning, The Observable Universe is a genre-bending debut about grief in the internet age.

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