Book recommendations from Neal Stephenson–among other things

I read this Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash among others” href=”″>very cool interview with Neal Stephenson on Slashdot the other day and decided it was worth linking to.

His list of book recommendations alone makes it worth checking (so I’m quoting that here):


Fiction I have lately read and enjoyed:

Set this House in Order by Matt Ruff

Ilium by Dan Simmons

Iron Council by China Mieville

Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart

The I Love Bees alternate reality game

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke

The Fool’s Tale by Nicole Galland (in galleys; soon to be published)

Short story collections by Etgar Keret: The Bus Driver who Wanted to be God, and The Nimrod Flip-out. Last time I checked, The Nimrod Flip-out was only available from an Australian publisher named Picador, but this should pose only the most minor of challenges to Slashdot readers. Keret is a young Israeli writer who has also done some work in film and graphic novels.


Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates and Lincoln’s Cooper Union address

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

Thank god for Dr. Hunter S. Thompson!

I caught a bit of his rambling in this Rolling Stone article.

No one can write like him:

Bush signed his own death warrant in the opening round, when he finally had to speak without his TelePrompTer. It was a Cinderella story brought up to date in Florida that night — except this time the false prince turned back into a frog.

Immediately after the first debate ended I called Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he couldn’t come to the phone. “The debate really cracked him up,” he chuckled. “The champ loves a good ass-whuppin’. He says Bush looked so scared to fight, he finally just quit and laid down.”

Wherefore the weblogs halting behavior?

Now that my life has changed utterly (the transition from cubitant to gradstudent being completed), I find that my online habits have been changing as well. Mostly, I’ve been struggling with what to do with this thing, this space which is increasingly devoid of content. I often *mean* to write something here, but I find that I don’t really think of it. It doesn’t occur to me like it used to, when I was poking away at spreadsheets and databases in the cube farm.

My initial thought is to incorporate this, somehow, into my school-life. I’ve had thoughts of turning this, here, left-side into a dumping ground for school notes and thoughts related to studies, while turning that increasingly defunct right-side over there into an amalgamation of what the left/right dichotomy used to (doesn’t it still) mean to me.

I’ve thought about collapsing the two into one single entity. Just letting it all stir together in a grand stewpot, letting the chips or whatall just fall wherever. I’ve also thought about finding some kind of new vigor and, while continuing the old classic left/right style, adding a new school-related thing. I sort of balk at this last option–managing three weblogs seems to fall just a hair away (if not over!) the line of complete and utter sheer madness.

The sadness, for me, is that I’ve been having a lot of really great thoughts and thinks about things that I feel are sort of falling by the wayside. (Another possibility: Am I feeling paralyzed by the insanity and madness that seem to me to be roiling just beneath the thin skin of our “civilization”, just waiting to burst onto the scene in a fury of violence and savagery? I am afraid of what is to come, even as my life blossoms with all kind of possibility. And perhaps ashamed of my inability to take action or speak in the face of where the world seems to be heading. So I just kind of peer out at the world through my little hazy glass porthole, hoping that maybe I’m wrong, and things really aren’t as bad (though I think ‘fucked’ would be more appropriate) as they seem.) So, basically what I’m saying is that I intend to keep writing in this space in *some* format; though there may be something of a reconstruction or a remodeling in the near future.

Also, I kind of even doubt if anyone is even poking around here anymore (not that that was ever really the reason for writing here, though a nice side-effect), so I should just do whatever strikes me as useful and good and maybe something groovy will come out of it.