Sean is a recent collage graduate who doesn't know what he wants from life, except that he wants to live it
- which is too bad, since a huge asteroid is going to hit Earth and destroy it. It's Only Temporary begins when there is less than a day left to live. Sean has finally come out of his denial and decides that he wants to die with his
ex-girlfriend, whom he still loves. He says good-bye to his parents, and his father gives him a gun. Then Sean gets into his car and drives towards her house.
On the way he
smokes some weed so that he doesn't have to think about the coming destruction.
On the freeway, he encounters a bleeding woman who was kidnapped, abused, and
thrown out of a moving bus. She wants revenge on the men who did this and also
to rescue the two women who are still in the bus. Sean is reluctant to help her
because time is precious, but in the end he agrees and they start to chase the bus on an otherwise empty freeway.
Shapiro's style is minimal, but he still manages to write effective descriptions
within short chapters and scenes where nothing is extraneous. He uses effective occasional flash-back sequences
to paint the life of Sean and his girlfriend, Selma, and their relationship. The other characters in the book get a lot less screen-time, but still they come across as very human.
Shapiro paints a vivid picture of the things people do when they are faced with
imminent destruction, and sometimes the images are downright surreal. Some people commit suicide,
others continue to work as usual.
Most people think about their lives and their possible afterlives.
However, when the end is very near, most people are in their homes with their loved ones,
awaiting death together.
The first-person narrative delivers flashbacks into Sean's life, making the book an intimate experience. As may be expected, Sean
ponders the meaning of life and death, what kind of death is better, and what a
man can or should do this close to the end. However, that doesn't slow the story down much. There are some religious
overtones but in the end, there are no certainties for anyone.