In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro takes us on an unsettling night tour of America’s public places―a gas station restroom, a shoe store, a convention hall, and a race track, among other locations―and in stark, Edward Hopper-like imagery reveals the surreal and dreamlike features of these familiar but empty night spaces. Shapiro finds in them not the expected alienation but rather an odd, companionable solitude rising from the quiet emptiness.
From supermarkets to funeral homes, we have made places for us to be. In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro imagines those places without us. Does our absence matter? We go in and out of experience and memory, in and out of culture and awareness. What happens when we are gone? This is both a modern and an ancient consideration, just short of crisis and very near to joy.