What I didn't expect was the strange pertinence of this novella to now, even though I have noticed weird coincidences in my "Covid reading" before. A character in Chess Story is held as a prisoner to get information out of him, and the form of psychological torture is "the most exquisite isolation imaginable." Yes, it's a form of solitary confinement but in a hotel. "They did nothing--other than subjecting us to complete nothingness. For, as is well known, nothing on earth puts more pressure on the human mind than nothing. Locking each of us into a total vacuum, a room hermetically sealed off from the outside world...." Well, you get the idea. I know people are truly suffering in their loneliness and isolation right now.
The prisoner suffers, and a doctor later gives him some relief, saying "Perfectly understandable when you get down to it," speaking of the forced isolation. "Since March 13, isn't it?" March 13 was when my own isolation began, a stay-at-home order beginning a work-from-home period until June 1. And I know that Friday the 13th was the end, and beginning, of something similar for a lot of us here in the USA. Imagine my shock at seeing that particular date in a book from 1941 that I was reading in 2021.Macassar, a brand of hair oil. Perfect!