June 29th, 2005


Book Reviews: Pattern Recognition, The Hard Goodbye

Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson

This is the story of a woman named Cayce Pollard, who is a) allergic to over-branded logos, b) able to determine the viability of potential marketing memes and logos, c) worried about her father who most likely died during the attack on 9/11 but is missing, and d) working to uncover the secrets behind a movie that is being released, anonymously, in tiny chunks across the Internet. Gibson does some interesting philosophizing about the nature of consumer culture, the Japanese obsession with Americana, the Russian mafia, and some Stephensonian dips into antique computer trivia. The plot is not particularly startling or gripping - the leisurely pace of the details and descriptive narrative are enough to keep you hooked in as much as you would like to be.

As an airplane read, this was pretty damn good. Beats the shit out of Neuromancer.

The Hard Goodbye, by Frank Miller (i.e. Sin City #1)

If you saw Sin City, you've basically read The Hard Goodbye (This would be Marv's story - the ugly, misogynistic son of a bitch played by Mickey Rourke). This is an overly gritty story about an ugly, misogynistic son of a bitch in a corrupt, hopeless world. Marv is not a hero, nor does he seem to be entirely sane. Unlike the portrayal in the movie, I was filled with contempt for Marv throughout the entire story. Marv is not a sympathetic character, because his existence is utterly Hobbesian - nasty, brutish, and short. Marv is the product of a diseased society on the brink of collapse, and his one moment of happiness deludes him into believing that there is something worth fighting for in his world besides himself. He fails in this, because he has no idea what it means to think of somebody else. His life is full of people who look out for him, trying to show him what it means to care and feel, and all he can do in return is maim and kill in a vain attempt to win their love.

That doesn't mean the story is bad - I really like the story. It's just not a story for everybody, and it can be incredibly depressing.