Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gone Away World

I like Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (If I say I like a writer, that doesn't mean I like the person. It might, if I know the writer, but unless I specify, I mean that I like his/her writing and what he/she writes. Also, I use the masculine form of the third person pronoun as the generic.) I liked his work when I first read it in High School, and learned to love the way he handles language when I was at CMU and my roommate N would sit in the hall and read Vonnegut.
I also learned to like mushrooms on pizza while I was there, so some good things do come out of college.
I've not found a writer that I like so much in a lot of decades, so Vonnegut's death in April, 2007 was a sad time. (I thought the same thing as when David Gemmell died - we will never see such stories from them again.)
So I captured the entire text of Harrison Bergeron and put it into the Notes of my Outlook so I could read it occasionally. The formatting isn't good, but the story is still one of my favorites and it's a quick read.
Every once in a while I get lucky, and a book review catches my eye. Quite often this will be from Wired's GEEKDAD section. A few weeks ago Jonathan H. Liu reviewed The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway and it seemed like it might be worth a shot.
I loved it.
Now I'm not saying that Harkaway is Vonnegut. I am saying that I haven't had such a fun time, a genuinely fun time reading a book since the last time I read Vonnegut. As a matter of fact, I probably liked reading Harkaway more, but I'm older and I truly think the plot was, as Mr. Liu said in his review, "surprising and awful and irresistible."
I sent an email to my buddy N and told him to read this book. I can pirate a part of that message and apply it to what I think of Nick Harkaway's ability with words.
Reading The Gone-Away World brought me great pleasure and a lot of joy but not the kind of joy you get from cotton candy, where you are liking to eat it, but sort of annoyed that it sticks to your fingers and makes your tongue a funny color, but it's sweet and you keep picking at it and then it's gone and you miss it, but the color won't wash off and you wonder if maybe you should have had ice cream. But some smooth ice cream, like chocolate, or maybe strawberry, but not the ones with artificial flavors because they are really bad for you. Not that ice cream is good for you, and the kind with nuts actually has some nutritional merit, although that isn't why I don't like the nuts in ice cream. It's because I just can't get past the thought of the texture of smooth ice cream versus the ones with nuts and chunks of stuff in them. When I have a bowl of a chunky ice cream, I do find that I enjoy it. More than cotton candy, anyway. Almost as much as reading Nick Harkaway's book.

1 comment:

  1. Harrison Bergeron is by Vonnegut? THIS EXPLAINS SO MUCH! I thought I hadn't read Vonnegut until college - but I loved Harrison Bergeron. ^.^ Thanks for introducing me to him!

    Yes, but re: Nick Harkaway's The Gone-Away World. It's still my favorite story I've read this summer. I'm glad you and I agree that Vonnegut may be sticky-sweet like cotton candy - leaves that lingering flavor on your tongue, you want more right away but maybe that was just a little TOO MUCH - and Nick Harkaway is rather more like...caramel. You eat it, smack-smack. You find a sticky bit, roll it back over, chew on that sentence again. Smack-smack. You chew until your jaws get a little sore on the first 2/3, smack-smack. Then the last tiny piece of candy is over too quickly! The flavor's still everywhere, so you chew on it a little longer, enjoy the whole caramel taste. And then weeks later, you're sitting there and you find a little bit of delicious caramel in the corner of your tooth, and smack-smack, it's right back to the land of "WOW! I can't believe how good that was!"

    Yep, mm-hm. ^.^