spook country

I finished William Gibson’s new book today. It’s kind of a strange departure for the king of cyberpunk–to write a novel set in the present, with basically recognizable technology–but I thought he explained it pretty well in today’s NY Times Magazine.

I bought this book because I thought I was going to get to hear Gibson read when he was in town this week and I wanted to have read it first, but I ended up being too tired to go and stand in line. I saw (heard?) Gibson read probably ten years ago in Berkeley (around the time that Idoru was published), and I was really looking forward to seeing him again, but it just didn’t work out this go round.

I can’t say I thought this was Gibson’s best book, but I did think he had some interesting things to say. Like much of his work, there are multiple story tracks that all tie in together eventually, and one of my major problems in engaging with it was that I really wasn’t into one of the major characters (Milgrim, a junkie) in one of the three plots. I also found the writing somewhat disjointed–there were chapters that were only a page-and-a-half long, and when when you’re trying to track three plots, that’s not too helpful.

But I can’t think of anyone who has more insight into the ways we use–and are used by–our technology than Gibson. And his portrayal of the life of a minor celebrity is witty and revelatory.

I’ve been a fan of Gibson’s since I first read Neuromancer in the early ’90s. I read his blog, which is spare and elegant. And I’ll keep buying his books as long as he keeps writing them, or until they have some other method of publishing them. Not every one has to rocket out of the park. This one’s more along the lines of a grounder base hit.


August 19, 2007. books for grown-ups. 5 comments.