26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Lazy, pretentious and shallow is no way to write a book.,
This review is from: The New New Thing : A Silicon Valley Story (Hardcover)
A lot of the commentary on this book has focused on Jim Clark, the allegedly brilliant computer geek and machine-freak. Clark might be an interesting subject, but it will be left to another author to tell us why. To steal from Dorothy Parker, Lewis explains Jim Clark's life from A to B.
It's hard to criticize specific points of the book, because it attempts to achieve so little. In a biography it would be a sin to mention, as Lewis does, that the first 25 years or so of Clark's life cannot be discussed because Clark does not want to talk about them. The fuzzy bit about Clark apparently being married twice would be another sin, if it were a biography. But Lewis is not promising to tell the story of Clark's life. In the same way that Lewis claims Clark is not a scientist or an entrepeneur or a manager or a financier, his book is neither a biography nor a business case study nor a history of the Valley. Instead it is a shallow set of ramblings of Jim Clark stories as viewed through the eyes of our intrepid writer. Any incident not personally witnessed by Lewis is given short shrift, as he obviously has neither the time nor inclination to do actual research. Apparently, his editors didn't either. One egregious fact failure was his comment that Microsoft (no, despite being Redmond, I do not nor have I ever worked for the evil empire) is the largest company on the New York Stock Exchange. For a former investment banker (see "Liar's Poker") to confuse the NASDAQ with the NYSE is unbelievable, especially since it is widely known that the NYSE has been practically begging Microsoft to move its listing from NASDAQ to the NYSE since its IPO.
The book is also lazy. There is a scene where a team of people from Healtheon is explaining their strategy to some outside investors. Lewis writes that they were no more able to underastand software than he or his readers could. Well, Mr. Lewis, your job as a writer is to tell us stories and explain things for us. If you don't understand your subject I recommend that you leave this to writers who can.
The writing style is another annoying feature of the book (after reading about Clark I now feel to let my annoyance run free). Lewis mixes Hunter Thompson's first-person gonzo style (do we need to know that Clark invited Lewis onto both is yacht and his airplane?), with the repetition of "Bonfire of the Vanities" ("the new new thing!" "Masters of the Universe!"), and a very shallow simalcrum of "The Soul of a New Machine." All of these other authors give us more, and make better use of these literary techniques.
And that's the problem here. Clark and his companies are more than worthy to be the subject of a great book. When Tracy Kidder takes the time to write that book, I'll be first in line to buy it.
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Initial post: Oct 17, 2015 2:50:53 PM PDT
Dirk Gently says:
What book were you reading? The New New Thing is not a minute-by-minute chronicle of any single human.
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