Friday, January 20, 2006

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition

Just read William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. It starts off very crisply (whatever that means, sorry) and engagingly, focussing on a sensitive young woman interestingly alienated from popular culture. Apparently at some point in the novel's writing the 9/11 attacks occurred, and (so I guess) the book tries to react to the tragedy but fails to maintain its balance. By the end of the novel, Gibson is so emotionally invested in the main character that the plot seems to warp around her and villians and love interests and every last minor character get whirled into their proper places like billiard balls after an impossibly perfect break. (There's even sort of an apology as a postscript. Please bring me to my senses if I ever write one of those.)

Still, most people will probably find the book worth reading for the first half's fine tone and fascinating ideas.


Blogger Azael said...

"and every last minor character get whirled into their proper places like billiard balls after an impossibly perfect break"

Nice turn of phrase.

20/1/06 12:10  
Blogger rilkefan said...

I don't know about "whirled", actually - I had originally been thinking about a gravitational metaphor (see "warp") and was aiming at the slingshot effect but switched to pool. Actually that's perhaps reflective of the way the book presents itself, starting in one frame then switching to another...

20/1/06 12:24  
Blogger Jackmormon said...

In some degree, I thought Pattern Recognition a good book about pop culture--for a forty year-old. (One of my professors admired it so much that he based a course on its implied methodology, which I thought a bit silly.) That is, a lot of the ideas seemed more self-evident to me as a younger person than they seemed to do for either Gibson or my professor. For example, the protagonist's occupation as trend-spotter just didn't feel at all dramatic (I used to know a bunch of pret-a-porter designers). The too-early, too-tacked-on 9-11 thread was, I thought, unfortunate.

It's still worth reading, though. I dunno, maybe it's because I felt closer to the phenomena he was describing that I was underimpressed.

21/1/06 11:18  
Blogger rilkefan said...

I didn't think of her as a trend-spotter, really, or a cool hunter - more important was her zen or maybe anti-zen sort of relationship to pop. Though that never really went anywhere.

A wonderful novel that does take something along those lines somewhere is Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist.

21/1/06 12:21  

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