Spanos’s memoir of his World War II experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war near Dresden at the time of its firebombing by the Allies provides the basis for a reading of his entire career and its legacy, this article argues. The ontological and existential dimensions of this experience, as elaborated here, speak in and through every word of his work and as such have formative power for the future because everyday life now is, as the title of this memoir declares, In the Neighborhood of Zero, that is, ever on the verge of extinction. What other critic’s work of the last half century or so has so accurately and even defiantly anticipated the future conditions of human life on the planet?

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