It's only the second week of the year, and it already seems like last week's books have been replaced by a whole new cast of fiction and nonfiction. It's an embarrassment of riches, and every media outlet seems to be featuring something different. What follows is my attempt to keep up with it all.
The cover of this weekend's Sunday Book Review features William Gibson's collection of essays titled Distrust That Particular Flavor. Gibson writes science fiction and is well-known for inventing the term "cyber-space." To view life through his essays is to get swept up into his unique vision and brilliance. As reviewer Pagan Kennedy puts it, "Such is the power of his prose that when I glanced up from the pages of this book and surveyed the street-side around me, I felt as if I were wearing Gibson-glasses. Cars lumbered past like ponderous elephants of rusty steel, not so different from the cars of 30 years ago, and seemed not to belong in the same world as the tattooed kid punching code into his laptop nearby. Under the spell of this book, I suddenly understood my surroundings not as a discrete contemporary tableau but as a hodgepodge of 1910, 1980, 2011 and 2020."
There's a not-entirely-positive review of the Amazon Best of the Month Spotlight pick, Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son, which states in part "Johnson’s novel, far from being too labyrinthine, is an ingeniously plotted adventure that feels much shorter than its roughly 450 pages and offers the reader a tremendous amount of fun" But, the review continues, "This isn’t entirely a compliment. Should 'fun' really be the first word to describe a novel about one of the worst places on earth?" I guess you can be the judge of that. I loved the book, and so did a lot of other people at Amazon (and elsewhere).