Zero History

by William Gibson
2010 GP Putnam’s Sons (Penguin)

First sentence: Inchmale hailed a cab for her, the kind that has always been black, when she’d first know this city.
Idiotic clauses (see below): Glyphed in Prussian blue…a smoother simulacrum of its black ancestors…its faux-leather upholstery a shade of orthopedic faun.
You will enjoy this if you are also a fan of: eating your boogers

Perhaps I am too dumb to read William Gibson. I know what all these words mean, but they don’t fit together. It’s as if William Gibson chopped up a thesaurus with a hatchet and hammered the pieces together to make a novel. Every time I come across one of these clauses, like, “multiply flapped and counterintuitively buckled” I wait for a light to go on in my esoteric brain, the part that enjoys Baudrillard and jazz (I don’t enjoy jazz but I pretend to like it for all the jazz pussy), but instead I just groan and get sleepy. By the second page, I was in a coma.

It shared a richly but soberly paneled foyer with whatever occupied the other, westernmost, half of the building.

William Gibson, you are trying too hard. Clever, richly-appointed prose has a place, but you give your reader’s imagination no room to expand. You fill out every passage with stumbling blocks like, “Japanese herringbone Gore-Tex” and “one might have ridden a horse without having to duck to clear the lintel”. Every time you write something, your reader has to think about it. If this were a poem, it would be perfect, because we know it’s going to be over by the end of the page. But this goes on for 401 more pages! And besides being an obstacle course to read, I can safely estimate that at least 200 pages of this shitty book are unnecessary filler, which means you skimped on story.

Go back and read Hemingway. He wrote prose like this:

I woke up with a headache and took a drink. I farted. It burned. Then I beat my wife. She cried.

It’s simple, it tells a story, there’s implied tension, emotion, even humor (especially the part where he beat his wife — what a clown!). And best of all it has no confusing speedbumps like, “the floor plan gave evidence of hesitation”. You don’t have to write exactly like Hemingway, but there’s probably a happy medium.

And lastly, I don’t see why people make such a big deal about you inventing the word “cyberspace”. I’ve never said the word “cyberspace” in my whole life except when I was talking about William Gibson and his shitty books.

Other reviews: Mostly Fiction, Iceberg Ink, Big Dumb ObjectCity of Tongues

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Zero History

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