I Will Never Be William Gibson – A Review of Distrust That Particular Flavor

distrustI just finished reading Distrust That Particular Flavor, and I realize that I will never be William Gibson. It is almost ironic that he is known as a futurist, when what he really is, is a historian. He is a global hunter of esoterica. A purveyor of the detritus of sociology. He takes pleasure in the suburbia of human existence, no, just the fringes of society, or more, the artistic side streets of our past. He is well-traveled and knows a lot of famous people in a wide array of fields, musicians, artists, photographers, writers and collectors among the many. He claims not to be an expert in any of these endeavors or devices, whether it be old typewriters or mechanical watches or film-making, or any of a plethora of other human enterprises. Definitely not the internet. Although, he appears to be slowly embracing it.

He wrote this book in 2013, so a lot could have changed since then.

The one way we are similar is that we seem to glam onto one particular thing at a time and spend a lot of energy getting familiar enough with it to speak the lingo, but not to really have any serious depth of understanding. I could be completely wrong about that. He strikes me as a keenly intelligent man with a gift for noticing the oddities and accouterments of our society.

He is fascinated by Japanese culture and the way they have embraced change and live on the bleeding edge of our now, leaning as far into the future as humanly possible and but still living in this current time-frame, and you can see that in a lot of his fiction. He likes haunting photography and movies, old and new, the fringier the better. At least these are my impressions after reading this book.

It is a series of non-fiction pieces he had written for different forums over the course of twenty-one years from 1989 to 2010. Essays and critical observations and speeches. Every observation is fascinating and insightful and showcases his incredible grasp of the English language in a way his fiction only hints at. The way he describes things strikes some deep chord in my soul. If you have any interest in Gibson, I highly recommend this book.

No, I will never be William Gibson, but as my wife said to me, we already have one.