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21st Century Prose Haiku from William Gibson,
This review is from: Distrust That Particular Flavor (Hardcover)William Gibson has said more than once that science fiction possesses a unique toolkit for dealing with our science fictional present. He said that again when I asked why mainstream writers are turning increasingly to science fiction during a question and answer session held during his New York City literary event for this very book. He could have offered similar advice to journalists with respect to their narrative nonfiction and journalistic reporting; "Distrust That Particular Flavor" makes a most powerful case for that, in vivid, often concise, prose that will remind his most ardent fans of his early "Sprawl" stories and others collected in "Burning Chrome" and the novels "Neuromancer" and "Count Zero", and one that also evokes "Idoru", and other, later novels like "Zero History", in its relentless attention to detail. Any new book written by William Gibson should give readers ample cause for celebration, but this, his first foray into nonfiction, is not only a most distinguished collection of essays, but one that will be admired for years.
There is undoubtedly a strong cyberpunk-like beat in much of Gibson's narrative nonfiction. His poignant remembrance of his favorite SoHo (New York, NY) antiques store written within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ("Mr. Buk's Window") could have easily been part of one of his early "Sprawl" stories (Not surprisingly, he admits in a concise afterword that that antiques store would inspire him to finish writing the novel he had just started; "Pattern Recognition".). He has written a most concise tribute to "Steely Dan" ("Any `Mount of World") that not only pays tribute to the songwriting duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, but does so in such a way that anyone reading it will think that it is really a free verse poem instead of a most insightful piece of criticism. He finally explains his interest in Japanese culture in several compelling essays that explain why he thinks Japan represents our future. When he writes about his visits to Japan and Singapore, he does so in narratives that are so eerily reminiscent of his densely layered prose in novels like "Neuromancer", "Idoru", and even his most recent ones like "Pattern Recognition", and especially, "Zero History". Readers will be pleasantly surprised reading how he finally succumbed to the ample charms and distractions of the Web via eBay in his essay "The Net is a Waste of Time". And of course, he also discusses his longstanding admiration for writers as diverse as H. G. Wells, George Orwell, J. G. Ballard and Samuel Delany. In short, Gibson has given readers a concise introduction into his thought and an introductory trek that is one well worth taking.