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August 2023

Armed with this simple question and an iPhone...

By J. R. Mitrano, Central Connecticut State University

Published by CHOICE, published by the Association of College and Research Libraries

"What was your 2020 supposed to be like and what did it end up being like through to the present?"

“Armed with this simple question and an iPhone to record responses, Fishburne, a "full-time digital nomad," as described by the publisher, traversed the US in a motor home, logging 12,000 miles and interviewing approximately 300 people from September 2020 to September of the following year to document how individual Americans' lives had been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The author contextualizes her journey and methodology in an introductory essay, invoking John Steinbeck's 1960 cross-country trek with Charley, his dog. She then unravels 100 representative vignettes of people identified only by first names, the states in which they live, and a brief descriptor characterizing their job or status during the pandemic. Ranging from 25 to 45 minutes in length, the author's interviews revealed a vast "mosaic" of pandemic experiences. Widely varied, these reported experiences are made coherent by the emerging themes of what interviewees believed mattered most to them during this period, most notably family, career, friends, and community. Though some accounts are more compelling, poignant, or introspective than others, the result is a compact, accessible oral history documenting what Americans "lost and found" during the pandemic.”

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.

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