In other news, I've become a mass consumer of media. The two hours on the BART have done it to me. Besides slowly chewing through my music library, and adding to it at the limits of my paycheck, I've been reading NEJM religiously, I'm joining ATS tomorrow so I can start to read the Blue Journal, I listen to podcasts of All Songs Considered, This American Life, and Car Talk, and I have burned through Neal Stephenson's Anathem, Cormac McCarthy's The Road (soon to be a Major Motion Picture starring Viggo Mortensen!), and Cory Doctorow's Little Brother in the past 2 weeks. I'm now firmly putting myself into reading that will slow me down. Next up is a book of Chekhov's stories and the only Pynchon I haven't read yet (except the new one) -- Mason & Dixon. Speaking of the new one, Inherent Vice, it's on my Amazon list, along with Infinite Jest which interestingly has a very similar title and supposedly is quite Pynchon-esque. Wonder if ole' Tom named his new book as a tribute to David Foster Wallace.
Anathem -- A relatively slim tome by Stephenson (at least it's only one 900+ page volume) about a world in which instead of having religious cloisters, there are "maths" which keep scientific, mathematic, and philosophic knowledge alive through societal upheavals. Quite nice, a great page turner, especially if you turn quickly through the dozens of pages of philosophic discussions over epistemology and the nature of the universe. For those of you who like their books with timelines, glossaries of lingo, appendices with math and orbital mechanics lessons, and so forth. Let's say Dune meets The Name of the Rose. Or Canticle for Leibowitz without so much post-apocalyptic mayhem.
Speaking of post-apocalyptic mayhem, The Road (soon to be a Major Motion Picture starring Viggo Mortensen) puts a mysterious man leading small people across a desolate landscape avoiding evil. To be played by Aragorn himself in a movie, of course. Except this time he's simply "The Man" wandering south across a post-nuclear America with his son. It being a Cormac McCarthy novel, you know things aren't gonna be all peachy. I kept waiting for Javier Bardem to pop out with a cow stunner.
At to make a nice segue, another tale of an America gone wrong is Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. I found out about it because both it and Anathem were nominated for Hugo Awards (Little Brother was nominated for a Nebula as well.) I read it on my iPhone as it is available for free all over the internets (legally). I found it very fitting to read a tale about the next 9/11, where terrorists blow up the Bay Bridge and the BART tunnel while riding through the BART tunnel twice a day. Anyway, as you know it would, Homeland Security goes all apeshit. The story is told by a 17 year old who lives in the Mission as he gets caught up in the inevitable extreme overreaction that would come from another 9/11. A good parable of the pitfalls of security theater and how we will have to actively fight for the right to privacy in the future (as well as giving some good hints as how to go about doing just that). I'm not sure I really dug the 17 year old point of view but hey that's what Doctorow was aiming for.
So after Pynchon what's next? I can't very well follow a Pynchon with a Pynchon (the new one) or even a David Foster Wallace. Any suggestions?