Lost in the discussion lamenting the imminent closing of the Out Of Town News newsstand in Harvard Square is what it will mean to the rest of us.

As bibliophiles know well enough, this very event was predicted in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, where OOTN’s “implied closure augurs the end-time.” (From New York magazine.)

From Wikipedia: The novel explores themes of women in subjugation, and the various means by which they gain agency, against the backdrop of a totalitarian pseudo-Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government in the near future. Sumptuary laws (dress codes) play a key role in imposing social control within the new society.

The novel is set in the Harvard Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Atwood studied at Radcliffe College, and many locations in the novel are recognizable. Victims of “Salvagings” (public executions) are hanged on the wall of Harvard Yard; Fred’s home is on the famous “Professor’s Row”; and the Brattle Theatre, Memorial Hall and Widener Library make very prominent cameos.

Downside: totalitarianism
Upside: women will be doing my laundry

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