Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cryptonomicon- Neal Stephenson

From The Bookstore Where Books Are a Dollar, Cryptonomicon is probably my life's greatest value for money WIN! At 900+ pages, this book is giant, and every page is either hilarious, or suspenseful, or both. (Oh--or gory. Sometimes gory.) Plus, I don't think I even got full value: I know nothing about WWII, or cryptology, so whatever historical, geographical, mathematical, and political accuracies the author took pains to incorporate were lost on me. It was just good, dammit! Put-down-everything-else-and-read-for-hours good. Hours and hours. The book is so long that it would be frustrating and time-consuming to read it in short little blurps, and I recommend against doing it like that, but luckily the book practically compels you to read it in giant chunks.

The only discordant note to me was due to the Christopher Moore / Carl Hiaasen / sometimes-Tom Robbins problem. This is the problem where you are reading along, and everything is fine and normal; your disbelief is suspended just like you want it to be, and then the novel's first female character comes along. Often she is wearing shorts, which is suspiciously lucky, in that it provides an opportunity to devote some text to her legs. This character does not make sense. She is like no one you have ever met, nor do you believe that she probably exists somewhere else, unmet. She works out to be pretty awesome for our hero, but she also functions as a razor-sharp machete, hacking constantly away at the suspension of your disbelief.

Everything else was good, though. Particularly delicious to me was the twenty-page memo starting on p. 510, to write which Stephenson apparently wondered, "What if this particular character's prose style was basically that of a very reader-friendly David Foster Wallace, without the footnotes? And he was writing a memo about a jungle adventure?" (Or maybe I just have DFW on the brain? Either way it's entirely, entirely enjoyable.)