Book-A-Month - August 2009 #2

It caught my eye as I walked past my basement bookshelf last week. My favorite Stephenson novel, Zodiac, sitting squarely between The Big U and Snow Crash, looking particularly tempting, was too hard to resist. So, over the course of 3 or 4 shockingly long baby naps, I breezed through the 308 pages that make up this entertaining, thought-provoking and possibly overly informative eco-thriller.

It helps that I've read it before. The first-person narrator, Sangamon Taylor, is an asshole, and he's hilarious. Every one of Stephenson's focal characters is just a little bit of an ass, just a little too smart for their own good, and just precocious enough that the story almost happens to them solely because of who they are. (I suppose that's the point, right?) This is a formula for fiction that I find incredibly entertaining, hence the repeat read.

I mentioned the first time I read the book on my old blog back in November of 2004:

I started reading Zodiac by Neal Stephenson at the airport, and was about 2/3 of the way through it by the time we landed at Midway. I gotta say, there isn’t a thing that I’ve read by him that I don’t like. I need to pick up The Diamond Age before reading his current trilogy set in the 17th century called The Baroque Cycle.

The book is set in Boston, which means that when the narrator says “We took the green line to Kenmore Square and took a bus to Watertown Square...” I know exactly what he’s talking about, and happen to know he probably took the 70 or 70A bus.

One of the things I like most about Stephenson’s books is that he throws in all of this semi-random, yet utterly useful background information about his characters and the science behind whatever it is they’re dealing with. This means that I learned a lot about Chlorine last night, which I don’t much care about, but was nonetheless entertained.

I highly recommend this book, based only on the first 250 of 308 pages. I’ll re-endorse it later, I’m sure... and on that note, I think I’ll go finish it.

This is actually the third time I've blasted through this book, I enjoy it so much. It's still holding place as my favorite Stephenson novel of all time, just ahead of Cryptonomicon, with Snow Crash in at a close third.

Aug 25th, 2009