Last May I blogged about William Gibson’s new book Spook Country. Today, while at the airport in Indianapolis, I finally picked up a new hard cover copy. I also downloaded the unabridged audio version via iTunes.
Spook Country is Gibson’s follow up to his last book Pattern Recognition. I am not sure if the events in this book happens before, at the same time, or after the events in his last. However, I am 12 chapters into book and there is already a reference to Hubertus Bigend and Blue Ant, two central players in Pattern Recognition.
Stay tuned for my complete review after I am finished reading the book. Until then, I am providing several pieces of footage that I found on YouTube that covers Gibson’s overview of Spook Country. There is an interview, a reading of a section of the book that occurred in Second Life on August 2nd, 2007 as well as follow up Q/A after his reading. Enjoy!
Spook Country Interview
Spook Country Second Life Reading by William Gibson
Q&A by William Gibson in Second Life: Part 1
Q&A by William Gibson in Second Life: Part 2
His last book, Pattern Recognition, was a bestseller on every list of every major newspaper in the country, reaching #4 on the New York Times list. It was also a BookSense top ten pick, a WordStock bestseller, a best book of the year for Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and the Economist, and a Washington Post "rave." In fact the Washington Post went on to claim Pattern Recognition was "One of the first authentic and vital novels of the twenty-first century." I absolutely agree!
Gibson is claiming that "Spook Country is the perfect follow-up to Pattern Recognition". Below is a video interview of Gibson speaking about his new work:
Below are the online bookstores where you may pre-order Spook Country:
FINALLY…..its over!!!!! I usually do not stick with books that I am not enjoying. For some reason, most likely masochism, I decided to suffer through all 480 pages of Erik Larson’s follow up to his blockbuster thriller, Devil in the White City (a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and was happy to write a positive book review).
In Thunderstruck Larson once again uses his equation of uniting duel historic events, one focused on scientific discovery and the other a murder mystery. Specifically, the story focuses on Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless communications and Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, accused of murdering his gold digging, volatile wife. The connection….Crippen is discovered and is pursued across the Atlantic by authorities who, for this first time, utilize wireless communications to coordinate his capture and arrest. In fact, this part of the story is a bit interesting. It’s really the first 240-300 pages of the novel that you can do without.
Larson spends way too much time in the early part of this novel providing distracting and irrelevant details that take away from the overall story. My theory is that he was over compensating for the fact that neither of the two events covered in Thunderstruck were nearly as interesting as those covered in Devil in the White City. As an enthusiast of technology and telecommunications, I did not mind so much digging into the history of how wireless communications was born. Even so, the level of detail Larson provided regarding this history seemed to cross some line that put story telling second to him showing off his research prowess-YAWN!
I could go on-but I really do not want to waste any more time on this book then I already have. On a brighter note, I just started to read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. So far, it’s fantastic!
While placing an order on Amazon.com this evening, I ran across a Plog that uncovered that Gibson has been posting excerpts from his next book (scheduled to be available in mid 2007) to his blog. His latest post may be enjoyed here:
Additional segments exist randomly throughout his blog. Ironically, Gibson uses a rather outdated blog platform that does not create permalink’s for each of his posts. This made it difficult to easily share other samples that he has published in the past.
Many of you know that I am a huge fan of Gibson. I am particularly fond of his trilogy made up of Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. I also enjoyed Pattern Recognition. In fact, that book is currently being produced as a movie and is scheduled to be in theaters also sometime in 2007.
Last week I had the opportunity to play my first 18 holes of long play golf this year. As part of the Gridley & Company Fifth Annual Summer Networking Event and Golf Outing, I was invited to join a foursome to compete in the events scramble tournament. The rules included best ball on the first drive, then normal golf game play after that with the best score of the foursome for the hole. The rules also called for using at least two drives per person on the team.
Needless to say, I was awful! Regardless, I had a good time. In fact, I was awarded a copy of The Golfer’s Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella. for coming in with the most amount of strokes (meaning I was the worst golfer). HA! I shot a 115………….with a 36 handicap! So it goes without saying that I need all the help I can get. I did enjoy playing the course at the exclusive Blind Brook Club located in Purchase, NY. As they say, why let golf ruin a nice walk in the woods.
I have to give a shout out to Cassie, an analyst with Gridley, who was supposed to be my golf partner in arms. That is until some genius decided to re-arrange the teams. Oh well, the summer is still young and there are plenty of golf courses to still disgrace with our "challenged" game play.
I finished The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America this past week. As promised, I am offering my formal review of the book.
Two words: Spell binding! Erik Larson was masterful in weaving together two Gilded Age events that took shook that nation: The Chicago Columbian Worlds Fair and the murders of H. H. Holmes (America’s first Serial Killer), who used the Fair to lure his victims to their death.
What I found particularly fascinating was how Larson’s narrative contrasted these two events. On one hand is Chicago in the 1890s, a rapidly growing metropolis arising from the ashes of the Great Fire only twenty years earlier. The book begins with the City’s play to host the next World’s Fair. Even after being awarded the honor, Larson explains in detail all of the challenges that lay ahead for Chicago. Primary of them is the prevailing perception that the City does not have the cultural depth to pull off a Fair that meets or exceeds the prior one held in Paris, France. Even New York, who viewed Chicago as nothing more "then a greedy, hog-slaughtering backwater", feared that the Worlds Fair would be turned into a County Fair by the Windy City. The book details how this global apprehension drove Chicago and her talented architects to create the most stunning and beautiful exposition that the world has ever seen prior or since.
In contrast, Larson introduces H.H. Holmes; a smart, handsome, intelligent New Englander who moves to Englewood, IL, a suburb located just six miles west of where the Fair would be staged. Holmes faces none of the initial perception issues that Chicago is challenged with. Instead, he leverages his charisma and charm to garner instant appeal among women and men alike. Larson details how Holmes uses this instant appeal to aid him in carrying out his macabre and psychopathic obsessions, most disturbing of which is the slaughtering of young women (which there is not shortage of in Chicago at the time of the Fair).
This dichotomy of beauty and the beast at both macro and micro levels makes this book impossible to put down. Also, I found the historical facts about the Fair fascinating. I ended up wondering why there is almost zero attention paid to this event and its impact on this nation throughout my years of formal education. Most notable:
- Walt Disney’s father, Elias, helped build the “White City” of the Fair.
- The grandeur of the Fair influenced writer L. Frank Baum and artist-painter William Wallace Denslow to create the world of Oz.
- The Japanese temple on the Fair’s Wooded Island influence on architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his “Prairie” residential designs.
- The Fair prompted President Harrison to designate October 12th a national holiday: Columbus Day.
- Brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Cracker Jacks, Aunt Jemima were all introduced for the first time.
- Every carnival since 1893 has had a Midway and a Ferris Wheel; both concepts introduced at the Chicago’s World Fair.
- The vast influence that the Fairs chief design architect, Burnham, and it’s chief landscape architect, Olmstead, has had on the landscape of this country.
“A wonderfully, unexpected book…Larson is a historian…with a novelist’s soul.”