April 23, 2004


I'm sitting in the Inns of America Suites in Carlsbad, CA (or as the Hertz Neverlost navigation system in our rental car appropriately calls it: the "Ends of America Suites") trying to get back on the blog wagon. It's difficult to start back up after laying off it for so long.

But I'm wrapping up my consulting gig out here and presumably fresh from vacation in Puerto Rico, so it's time to dive back in.

To start slowly, I wanted to point out two books that I've finally gotten around to reading. It's been so long since I read a novel, and after slogging through so many non-fiction books, it's been a real joy.

I finished the first, Iain Pears' The Dream of Scipio, on my last trip to San Diego. It's a fairly depressing, but thought-provoking, story of ideas – of men who resolutely follow their convictions only to see in the end that they were misguided and didn't really understand at all. Not light reading, but certainly no Kant and the Platypus. The most interesting part is the way it weaves together three narratives from the 5th, 11th and 20th centuries, contrasting the protagonists' reactions to the fall of Rome, the plague and the occupation of France, respectively, while tracing their parallel stories of love interests against a common backdrop of anti-Semitism. The three are tied together by a manuscript written by one of them in the 5th century, and the author does a great job of mingling the speculation of the later narrators about their predecessors' lives with the stories of those very predecessors.

I'm now halfway through Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver which is a bit slower (and denser) than Cryptonomicon, but still very enjoyable to read.

Anyway, I recommend them both. They are certainly a nice diversion from philosphy, economics, and foreign policy for a while.

Posted by richard at April 23, 2004 12:24 AM

Quicksilver is on my bedside table. I read the first chapter in an airport john, was pleased to see Enoch Root in Colonial Boston.

I'll pick it up for the long haul after I finish Mason & Dixon and tackle some of the books that Mike loaned me.

Q. In a publishing world that is so prohibitive, how does Pynchon get away with this stuff?

A. Because he's Pynchon.

Q. What do you have to do to get to be Pynchon?

And that's the question that's just killing me as I embark on another stunningly absurd and mind-numbing project here at work.

I think it would be cool if Pynchon could anoint a successor who would go on in his name after he retired, sort of like the Dread Pirate Roberts institution in The Princess Bride. I'd even participate in the Apprentice-like reality TV show that whittled down the contestants to a single winner.

Or he could at least sponsor a spinoff series for lesser authors, like Tom Clancy did.

I need help.

Posted by: Brad A. at April 23, 2004 10:33 AM