Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Taste of the Peculiar

William Gibson: Distrust That Particular Flavor (Penguin Books; 2012; ISBN 978-1-101559-41-3).

I read this collection early in 2012, kept meaning to read it a second time and write a review, but never really got around to either. However, it was no fault of Gibson's, just my increasingly hummingbird-like way of acting these days as my attention span becomes increasingly fractured.

The essays remained in my mind and I would think upon them throughout the year and even haul the book out to re-read them. This past week, I read the whole collection through again, front-to-back. And I suspect that I will be dipping into this collection again and again, focusing on essays, paragraphs, phrases and even pairs of words.

As with his increasingly contemporary novels, Gibson brings his (sardonic and science fictional trained) eyes on aspects of culture, technology and more. The essays range from cities (or particular cities, especially Tokyo, London, New York and—most infamously for Gibson—Singapore) to film to music to individual bits of technology such as cellphones. In the year since I first read this collection, I have caught up (thanks to high-speed internet and the like) with the filmed bits of author and chef Anthony Bourdain, and it's interesting to see how their observations on countries and cities intersect, but, with those intersections, vary widely as to what is observed and what conclusions are drawn.

Gibson protests (too much) about his abilities as a writer of non-fiction. He is wrong here: he's a great writer, fiction or non-fiction. While I wouldn't want to see him take a few years off to write an in-depth study of wristwatches, I hope he continues to delve into wristwatches, coffee makers, manual calculators, film, music and more both in a fictional and a non-fictional sense for a long time going forward.

Made up of: Introduction—African Thumb Piano; Rocket Radio; Since 1948; Any 'Mount of World; The Baddest Dude on Earth; Talk for Book Expo, New York; Dead Man Sings; Up the Line; Disneyland with the Death Penalty; Mr. Buk's Window; Shiny Balls of Mud: Hikaru Dorodango and Tokyu Hands; An Invitation; Metrophagy: The Art and Science of Digesting Great Cities; Modern Boys and Mobile Girls; My Obsession; My Own Private Tokyo; The Road to Oceania; Skip Spence's Jeans; Terminal City; Introduction: "The Body"; The Net is a Waste of Time; Time Machine Cuba; Will We Have Computer Chips in Our Heads?; William Gibson's Filmless Festival; Johnny: Notes on a Process; Googling the Cyborg.

Counts as twenty-six (26) entries in 2013: The Year in Shorts. Previously read in 2012, but never reveiwed.

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