Orion Reads
a diary of books etc.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Salinger Analysis, Pattern Recognition

I finished Gibson's latest, Pattern Recognition with almost as much regret as i've ever finished any book. It's quality stuff. I highly recommend this to anyone who has friends who need to realize that the science fiction genre ain't what it used to be and now quite frequently counts as straight-up literature.

* Pattern Recognition in particular isn't actually sci-fi at all. In fact you'll find it at the book store under Lit, not Cyberpunk. The story is set in the present, not even 'twenty minutes' in the future, and while it does involve technology, the technology is Always off-stage and easy to ignore. Our heroine uses plain old Hotmail and Google, for instance.

* Gibson can Write! If you're one of those people who don't really read for story so much as naked quality of writing (and you know who you are you filthy buggers) then you should really check this one out. Maybe not his previous stuff so much, but Pattern Recognition is just gorgeous.

* The story is good.

At a tiny bookshop in North Portal i picked up Huck Finn, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, and The Fiction of JD Salinger, a 1958 monograph by Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, university of pittsburgh press. I think i've never really understood before why authors hate critics. Who do these guys think they are ? They don't seem to be willing to just say "i didn't like it" and so they couch their opinion in all these big (but not really that big, fellas) words. For example they don't like Zooey because it's got too much religion and spirituality in it and not enough literary novelty and thus doesn't qualify as literature apparently. Well, whatever, who cares. It's possibly a story ABOUT religion and spirituality guys. What makes you think authors always care about pushing the envelope of literary structure ? Literary structure is great, i agree, but sometimes there's content. Just because the core concept that everybody in the world is Seymour's Fat Lady and that the Fat Lady is jesus isn't that original doesn't mean it's not worth taking another stab at expressing. That's like saying 'sunsets have already been painted, why pain sunsets?' or.. well etc, you get the point.
On the positive side, i learned that Salinger in fact does have more published stories than the four think books, but they apparently haven't been collected since appearing in Colliers etc. How do i go about finding these ? Gwynn & Blotner say that these other stories pretty much suck, but they also say that Zooey is the worst of Saligner's stories, so who are they to me.

Am back into Norwegian Wood now.
I wonder how much of Marukami's tone is dependant on the translation.


  • "If you're one of those people who don't really read for story so much as naked quality of writing (and you know who you are you filthy buggers) then you should really check this one out."

    filthy bugger! I beg your pardon! That's your housemate your talking about. Also-I so much agree with your assessment. Pattern Recognition was a book that i could not put down in a world of books that i can put down, and easily, and often do. The writing is spare and thrilling and precise and addictive.
    I savor it, and even now, think and dream about reading the goddamn thing again.
    By the Way- I've tried to find the portrait of Jane Birkin that Gibson describes as looking like Cayce looks but it is nowhere to be found-however, it did plant a great picture in my mind and maybe that was his intention.

    By Blogger The Sensualist, at 5:48 PM  

  • i didn't know who jane birkin is.
    now i do; she's a super model! hooray!

    i like this photo, even tho it doesn't much look like my idea of Cayce, but because it looks like maybe Cayce and the evil lady interacting. http://www.geocities.co.jp/Hollywood-Miyuki/4493/gazou/jane2.jpg

    this one does tho. (really) (i looked i swear for a photo with the same expression but didn't find)

    By Blogger good old o, at 7:07 PM  

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