What Are You Reading? Yeah, You!

Either gaming news has withered lately or I've become apathetic as warm spring weather has started to hit Baltimore. (Just to let you know, the uncapitalized "spring" is brought to you by rule #1 on this site I just Googled. I only checked the one source. After all, if it's on the Web it has to be true.) When the front page begins to look a little weak, I like to resort to a community-fostering group project like this article. Let's begin with a question. What are you reading and has your choice been influenced at all by the war?

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I just finished William Gibson's new novel Pattern Recognition. (The italicized title was brought to you by this other site I just Googled.) I have to start this with a little disclaimer since Neuromancer was one of those defining books for me. You know the kind. When it feels like the author wrote the book just for you? Ahh...good times.

So there wasn't much hesitation when I saw his shiny new hardcover sitting on display. I'm about to reveal basic information about the book...nothing spoily. This is his first book that takes place in the present. I almost put the book back down as soon as I noticed this. After all, the whole reason I read his books is because of the brilliant futures he paints. However I kept reading because the language still felt right. He talks about things that are very familiar to us. He mentions the Apple Macintosh Cube, and uses Google as a verb, and even talks about the sociology of Web forums. He talks about these things with complete confidence and an intimate (or very well researched) knowledge. I'm sure we have all cringed at a TV show, movie or book that touches on something technical but gets it all wrong. For me it's like in The Sopranos' first season when Tony was playing Mario Kart with his son and was holding the N64 controller in one hand like a remote control. I held my breath a few times while reading the book, waiting for the same thing to happen, but it never did. Gibson clearly understands his subject matter.

I can't really write a detailed review of the book. I never know how much to tell, and I actually hate to tell anything at all. One of the joys of reading a book is that, if it's a good one, it's unpredictable. The story is engaging because it's unfamiliar to you. Even if I tell you that a book concerns the death of a shipping magnate and the resulting manhunt, I've probably already given too much away. Note: Pattern Recognition does not concern the death of a shipping magnate or resulting manhunt.

Gibson's talent with the English language gives very non-fiction topics a sci-fi aura that should be comforting to the fans of his earlier books. He approaches subjects like September 11th, high fashion and branding, and even jet lag as if he was learning about them for the first time, uninfluenced by anything known about them before. It is this fresh perspective on contemporary life permeating an already intriguing storyline that made this book such a great read for me. I'm ready for his next.

Comments

I am currently reading The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers.

Nothing like horror from 114 years ago. In the first story he writes about the distant future of 1920.

I'm finally getting around to The Devil in the White City, a book about two monstrous undertakings in two different senses. The first, The Columbian Exposition a.k.a. The Chicago World's Fair of 1892/93, which was a gigantic and awe-inspiring spectacle even by modern standards. The second, Dr. Henry H. Holmes, a Victorian serial killer who took advantage of the fair to snare his victims and whose body count dwarfed the Whitechapel murders from a few years prior. You might think the Holmes story might be the more riveting, but the fair chapters are the ones that I find truly fascinating.

Justin Fletcher wrote:

[...]Dr. Henry H. Holmes, a Victorian serial killer who took advantage of the fair to snare his victims and whose body count dwarfed the Whitechapel murders from a few years prior. You might think the Holmes story might be the more riveting, but the fair chapters are the ones that I find truly fascinating.

I saw a documentary about that a while ago. Both the fair and the serial killer are mind-boggling in their scope. The way Holmes built his hotel of death, it's weird it hasn't been talked about more.

Speaking with the Angel, a collection of short stories by various authors selected by Nick Hornby.

I just finished Der Verschollene (Amerika / The Man Who Disappeared) by Franz Kafka. I now have to choose between Fight Club or Contact. I'll probably go with Fight Club.