Dave is NOT in the Zone
It looks like I'm going to have to do this whole thing all over again, in the correct order-- which is highly appropriate for the content, as . . . like most of us (except for the stalkers, of course) I made my trip into the Zone unprepared, with little or no information, and came about it the wrong way, from the wrong direction, as a blithe intellectual, moving too quickly, with too much alacrity-- and I thank myself lucky that I was not ground into pulp, or that my legs weren't turned to gelatinous rubber, but what I should have done, instead of trying to read a book about a movie I had never seen, what I should have done-- because I'm no cinephile-- what I should have done was read the original book first, I should have read Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's novel Roadside Picnic long before I watched Stalker and I should have read Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room long after consuming both the original novel and the movie inspired by the novel, and while Tarkovsky's film is regarded as one of the best of the 20th century, it's also rather interminable, especially when you don't understand what's going on, and Roadside Picnic explains all that and more, in fact, if you're not a cinephile, then you can skip the movie and the Geoff Dyer book and just read the novel, and if you're not into Russian sci-fi, then you can skip the book entirely, and head to the Afterword, and simply read the notes the Strugatsky Brothers took on their very first discussion about the story, long before they sat down to write it . . . as these notes are so elegant and poetic, so ominous and enigmatic, and so pointed and precise, that they almost replace the novel itself: "a monkey and a tin can . . . thirty years after the alien visit, the remains of the junk they left behind are at the center of quests and adventures, investigations and misfortunes . . . the growth of superstition, a department attempting to assume power through owning the junk, an organization seeking to destroy it (knowledge fallen from the sky is useless and pernicious; any discovery could only lead to evil applications) . . . prospectors revered as wizards . . . a decline in the status of science . . . abandoned ecosystems (an almost dead battery), reanimated corpses from a variety of time periods."