A vague, unnamable danger drives much of the language throughout Howie Good’s Tomorrowland. The narrator speaks of a land in which “bodies in the early stages of decay hang like gray rags from the trees” and authorized personnel instruct evacuees “to wait for the destroying angels to tire and the broken buildings to stop burning.” It seems that the characters of this world cannot escape no matter how carefully they plot: secret police and paid snitches abound, and the whirring ceiling cameras never cease.
While the source of Tomorrowland’s unrest is never clear, it does appear to be rooted in the narrator’s childhood. In the opening story, “Love, Death, Etc,” the narrator describes his mother’s bathing his brother and him with snow, and then says, “After she dumps the snow from the pot, I kneel outside the tub and play with it, not knowing what I’ll remember one day or that no one escapes from the fire.” This instance of danger establishes the possibility that each flash fiction piece could be a brief glimpse into the future.
Then, at the end of the chapbook, Good’s narrator speaks again of his childhood, recalling the original source of his fear: his father’s violently annihilating a bird’s nest: “Their cheeping would wake me as if first light had become suddenly audible until my mother noticed them there and told my father who cursing opened my bedroom window that Sunday and reached out a dark and sparkling hand and destroyed as I watched in pale silence the circle of their nest.” And this is probably the most disturbing element of Tomorrowland: how easily that which is pleasant and calm can suddenly transform into the vicious and cruel.