found drama

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recent reading round-up

by Rob Friesel

It’s been a while since I’ve commented on books that have gone through the eye-hole. And given my recent in-take, I’d say it’s about time to make with the commentary…

David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again – – a worthy read on more levels than we have fingers and toes to offer. I’ve been a tremendous fan of Wallace’s fiction (“found drama” duh!) now for about five years and was more or less commanded by a good friend to check out this collection of essays. Several of them floored me. A few others I was “eh” about. His humor shines through in damn near all of these essays and in ways that are both easy to appreciate if you’re literate. “Getting Away from Already Pretty Much Away from It All” (for example) shows us his rare gift of being able to take a group of people and totally illuminate their follies and flaws without going about it in a way that is insulting or degrading; he saves that for his self deprecating remarks re: rich desserts. Then there’s “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” which is probably the first and only time I’ve seen him use footnotes in a way that I “expected”; oh, and this is pretty much required follow-up reading for anyone who just finished Infinite Jest. “Greatly Exaggerated” is a true gem – – a subtle jab at how literature/critical theory is so often so far up its own ass – – and making that jab as only an insider looking in as an outsider can do. But it’s the essay whose title is shared with the collection that makes it all worthwhile.

Huntington’s The H.G. Wells Reader – – got this one as a birthday gift. And what a gift it was. Modern sci-fi owes a lot to Wells. His substance and style (while indicative of his time period) set an important tone for the genre as a whole. His thoughtful prose illuminates how humanity is wrapped up in science and how science can’t escape its legacy of humanity. These excerpts and short stories are brilliant, plain and simple. (Only criticism is on their typesetter – – lines are too long with typefaces too small there, pal!)

Emmanuel Carrere’s biography of Philip K. Dick: I Am Alive And You Are Dead – – a scintillating, fun and yet twisted take on the life, times, and writings of the author that many consider to be the most important name in American sci-fi. Carrere’s take on Dick’s life has a sensitivity born of curiosity and a skepticism born of professional respect. I felt like this biography illuminated the most important events and foci in Dick’s life and (all things considered) explained a lot of his writings’ themes. That said, it’s made me glad to hold Ubik in such high esteem but made me a bit irritated with myself that I had yet to pick up and read The Man In The High Castle.

(Finally?) William Gibson’s latest: Pattern Recognition – – an interesting slant out of his usual sci-fi w/o losing that distinct Gibsonian sci-fi edge. (The future is now?) I just finished this one and it’s definitely going to take some time to wrap my mind around all that happened in between those covers. Maybe a missed a crucial moment or else something subtle slipped by me the first time around. That said, I was amused and intrigued by the Case/Cayce reprisal and the return(?) of the Russians. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gibson shares my sick Cold War nostalgia

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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