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Crosstalk Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. See more
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“A rollicking send-up of obsessive cell phone usage in too-near-future America . . . [Connie] Willis’s canny incorporation of scientific lore, and a riotous cast . . . make for an engaging girl-finally-finds-right-boy story that’s unveiled with tact and humor. Willis juxtaposes glimpses of claimed historical telepaths with important reflections about the ubiquity of cell phones and the menace that unscrupulous developers of technology pose to privacy, morality, and emotional stability.”—Publishers Weekly
“An exhilarating and laugh-inducing read . . . one of those rare books that will keep you up all night long because you can’t bear to put it down.”—Portland Book Review
“A fun technological fairy tale.”—BookPage
“One of the funniest SF novels in years.”—Locus
Praise for Connie Willis
“A novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness that Preston Sturges might envy.”—The Washington Post
“If anyone can be named ‘best science fiction writer of the age,’ it’s Connie Willis.”—Analog
“One of America’s finest writers . . . Willis can tell a story so packed with thrills, comedy, drama and a bit of red herring that the result is apt to satisfy the most discriminating, and hungry, reader.”—The Denver Post
“Willis can tell a story like no other. . . . One of her specialties is sparkling, rapid-fire dialogue; another, suspenseful plotting; and yet another, dramatic scenes so fierce that they burn like after-images in the reader’s memory.”—The Village Voice
“The Best of Connie Willis? Isn’t that like sorting through diamonds?”—Lytherus
From the Inside Flap
Briddey Flannigan is an expert in communication, working on the frontlines of the smartphone arms race at a major telecom company. When the new boyfriend she's bonded over an upcoming product launch withthe dreamy Trent Worthproposes after just six weeks, her main concern is keeping the snoopy office gossips from alerting her family, the sure-to-disapprove Flannigan clan. The issue is that Trent hasn't proposed marriage, he's proposed something far more intimate: an EED. A simple surgical procedure that allows an emotionally bonded couple to sense each other's feelings. What could go wrong? Everything]]at least, according to her family members and C.B. Schwartz, the eccentric genius who works out of her company's basement. Briddey decides it might be easier to just get the EED done fast, and have some relative peace and quiet with Trent as they race to outdo Apple's new phone. Too bad it turns out her familyand C.B.may have had a point. Briddey leaves the surgery with a far different outcome than she could ever have planned. Beloved, multiple Hugo- and Nebula Award-winner Connie Willis's unparalleled wit and ability to create unforgettable characters are at their peak in this timely new romantic comedy. Crosstalk will indeed have everyone talking, with its incisive and hilarious commentary on not just matters of the heart but our culture's obsession with making the private into the public. The Subterranean Press edition will be signed by the author and limited to 500 numbered copies. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Also: be aware, this is slightly different in genre from most of C.W.'s large-scale novels. If you expect The Doomsday Book, you will be confused/disappointed. If you're open to other sides of C.W.'s writing, you'll do fine. A lot of C.W. is not like The Doomsday Book but a lot of her other styles/genres/whatever are less visible (short stories, for example). I enjoyed reading a large-scale novel that reflected a different side of C.W.'s oeuvre, especially after the very intense Blackout/All Clear duo.
Crosstalk is a combination of so many of the elements that are crucial to a good Connie Willis story. To name a few, we have a screwball romance (in the vein of “Christmas Letter,” for example, or Bellwether), characters wrestling with the question of whether the supernatural can exist in the real world (like Inside Job), C.W.’s own scrupulous research and profound knowledge of literature, and, of particular importance here, a world drowning in flawed communication (though again, this is a common theme in C.W.’s writing). In this case, issues related to communication form the core of the work, and even more than C.W.’s other books, this one poses some very relevant questions about communication in general and in the contemporary world in particular.
There is no time travel and the book does not really belong to a pre-existing C.W. universe. It’s a stand-alone, much like Passage, and frankly I think the two have a lot in common. The heroines are both smart and relentless, thoroughly likable (unless you simply don’t like C.W.’s women, in which case I wonder why you’re reading this review). Passage is a very heavy read, though, and Crosstalk is a lot more fun—though it definitely has its moments of despair and sadness. Incidentally, there are also references to material from Passage in Crosstalk…
I can understand why some reviewers see this as an elongated version of C.W.’s short stories, and given that P.O.V. it’s probably natural to wonder if this couldn’t have been a short story instead of a lengthy novel. I, however, did not find the book to be an overgrown short story. To my mind, this is a very fully developed book and would have suffered had it been reduced to something smaller in scale. The length allows C.W. to explore the nuances of her themes and to imbue the entire story line with a greater sense of importance and suspense. A short story or novella would not have allowed for all the commentary on social media and contemporary communication that was really the meat of the book, the work’s raison d’être. I also think the plot had enough twists and turns (none of which was unnecessary), and there was enough character development (again, necessary), that a dramatically shorter version wouldn’t have worked. Sure, the romance seems straightforward fairly early in the book—but things in no way move smoothly, and even if you are willing to accept that there are going to be a lot of challenges and mix-ups before things work out in that department, C.W. throws in some very, very serious monkey wrenches and several times I simply had to let go of all of my preconceived notions about the plot.
So, to summarize, I think this book takes what is best and most fun in a lot of C.W. stories, novellas, and yes, novels (not just Passage, but also To Say Nothing of the Dog), focuses these strengths into a very clever social critique that maintains C.W.’s witty humor and ability to create a real page-turner. There’s so much going on in this book—in terms of events, yes, but also in terms of language and the subtle dropping of hints regarding crucial plot points and themes—that I want to read it again to see what more I can learn. Ultimately, what we have is a completely delightful and enjoyable stand-alone novel. Oh, and the romance? Plenty of Shakespeare-style confusion with a dash of the best of Jane Austen. If you don’t know C.W.’s work, her ability to draw on other authors like this isn’t unusual—I was just delighted to find myself reading along and thinking things like: “No! Don’t do that! He’s Mr. Darcy!”
C.W. is smart and funny; she writes gorgeously; and her work isn’t just enormously entertaining—it’s also thought-provoking.
I loved this book. And I finished it in about three days, despite reading it only at night. I don’t know if that sounds slow or fast, but it’s kind of record time for me.
I have no idea how I am going to cope with picking a book to read next. Isn’t it always that way after you finish the good ones?
P.S.: My first meal after the book? Why, Lucky Charms, of course!
Also, I live with a 9-yo child. In no world does the character Maeve resemble a child of that age, and from the first moment that child speaks I was thrown out of believing the world Willis wanted to place me in.
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