Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Book recommendation

with semi-amusing personal anecdote thrown in at no extra charge:

Once upon a time, after I got my first "real" job, but before I had definitively left the parental nest (and therefore still lived in the eponymous "Hick Town"), I used to go to a place called Fry Street on the weekends. For the uninitiated (I assume very few of my readers fall into this category), Fry Street is a loosely defined area full of college bars adjacent to the University most proximate to the aforementioned Hick Town.

Most proximate, but still a half hour drive. Due to a very unfortunate previous event which will not be detailed here, said half hour drive, coupled with my usual Fry Street drinking habits, necessitated that these visits would end with me crashing on a friend's sofa at closing time and driving back the next morning.

One such morning, after a more-than-typical night of tipping many (many) Shiner Bocks, I awoke with the usual feeling of "Where the fuck am I, exactly?". I usually try to work out the answer to this question prior to opening my eyes. Because sometimes you want to circle around that answer a bit, let it come to you in small packets, catalyze it somewhat, rather than have it -- BAM! -- thrust right upon you all at once.

But in this instance, I was in a relatively safe (if not clean, or orderly) place. Once I had determined this to my satisfaction, I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, ignored the pounding in my brain pan, and slowly opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was the spine of a book inches from my face on the coffee table. The book had a curious name that -- in my stuporous state -- I couldn't quite parse correctly: Cryptonomicon. I stared, trying to puzzle out the name, and my misfiring brain kept making associations with Necronomicon, which has something to do with witchcraft, or satan, or something.

But so I finally, without moving my head, picked the book up and looked at the back cover for the blurbs. These contained words like: "brilliant", "visionary", "mind-boggling", "genre-busting", etc. I'm a sucker for good blurbs -- especially the kind that come from more august sources than "The Akron Gazette" or suchlike. Which these did. The NY Post (not exactly the NYT Book Review ("electrifying... hilarious"), but still) called the author, Neal Stephenson, "the rarest of geniuses" (to which I say, NY Post, you might want to tap the brakes a bit there, buddy).

So on the way home I stopped at Recycled Books (a sprawling used book store that you should definitely patronize, if you have the means) and got my own copy. It isn't for everyone (lots of tech stuff, jargon, and highly detailed descriptions of things that some people don't care much about... oh, and plus, not exactly a tie-a-nice-bow-on-top airplane-fiction type ending, which will kill it for some people).

But all of this is really just an excuse to post the following quote, from page 51:
After a series of conferences in a room at the town's Holiday Inn, the veteran emerged, accompanied by one of the five most famous lawyers on the face of the planet, and announced that he was filing a civil suit against the Three Siblings that would, if it succeeded, turn them and their entire community into a flat, smoking abrasion in the earth's crust.

1 comment:

bgirl said...

that's the second time this book has been brought to my attention this week. maybe i should take the hint and read it - though usually the blurbs i'm looking for say things like "somewhat easy on the brain" or "makes your life seem better" or "don't let anyone of importance catch you reading this."