Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My last day of vacation I spent reading All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson, a sort of sequel to Idoru, but one that can be read alone. It's been years since I read Idoru and I was able to follow along without too much hassle, although one of these days I'm going to read all his books in order to better see how they fit together. This one takes place mostly in a future San Francisco, where the Bay Bridge has been condemned and the homeless have taken up residence there, creating a vast shantytown that reaches to its top spires. There a killer, a rich and powerful man trying to put his stamp on history, a former convenience store security guard, his ex-girlfriend, a young silent boy obsessed with watches, the Idoru herself, and others all swirl around, trying to figure out and take advantage of the upcoming sea change in society. As with Gibson's other books, I was struck by how great his writing is - it's not just good by science fiction standards, it's also good by literary standards, which is why he's one of the few science fiction writers I still read.

Last week I finished Dark Dreams: Sexual violence, homicide, and the criminal mind by Roy Hazelwood with Stephen G. Michaud. I actually don't remember many specifics about the book because I read most of it a couple of weeks ago and honestly, all the cases start to blend together into one long stream of horrible, horrible ways people can be assaulted or killed. It was well-written though, not too dry or sensationalistic and I found it interesting, if a little depressing.

The perfect antidote to all that was They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal ads from the London Review of Books edited by David Rose. In the introduction Rose talks about how from the beginning the LRB's ads were a breed apart from those found in other papers. Those placing ads are "rarely inhibited by positive thinking and they don't tend to suffer the same degree of nervous overstatement found in other lonely-hearts sections... Such a self-denigrating and all too honest approach carries a distinctive note of charm." Charm is a good word for them. Even the pathetic ones have a sense of humor about them that allows one to feel like everyone is laughing together, not at anyone in particular. These are brutally honest ads, true, but at the same time they're very clever and funny, with a kind of gleeful lunacy about them.

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