Sunday Morning! Returning to Proust


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird

    It feels vaguely classless to say “I am totally going through that with William Gibson right now!”

    When I was a teenager reading this stuff, there were so very many details that he put in his book that were silly and superfluous and nowhere near enough emphasis on the awesome stuff that the tech would let people do and why in the heck did he spend so much time complaining about corporations?

    And now I read it and think “how in the heck did I not see this?”

    It’s an entirely new book. It’s like going to Las Vegas.

    From a distance, it looks like a heaven. In the broad daylight, up close? It’s tacky and awful.

    I’m sure that Proust feels similarly. A flash of an afternoon in childhood. A moment of delight. A moment of humiliation. A moment of beauty. A moment of terror. Each within 15 seconds. Why would he want to write about a humiliation, I might think at age 25. Now? Oh. Yeah. Of course.

    And, of course, it kicks in when he eats a cookie.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Jaybird

      I hadn’t heard of Gibson until I read your comment. Now, after skimming the wikipedia article on him (and on cyberpunk), I’m thinking: that sounds like Black Mirror!

      Would you have any recommendations of a “first thing to read by Gibson” for someone, like me, who reads sci fi only occasionally but who liked to watch Black Mirror before it became predictable and who occasionally reads Philip K. Dick?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to gabriel conroy

        Start with the Greatest Hits album: Neuromancer.

        It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s got wonderful retrofuture future anachronisms (remember pay phones?), and you’ll say “holy cow, I’m already familiar with this tune!” for every major set piece in the story.

        Heck, after that, you’ll either say “DID HE WRITE A SEQUEL?!?” (and he did! he wrote two…) or “well, I’m glad to have finally read the thing that kicked off most of this B.S.” when you put it down.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird

      There might be some overlaps there though. Gibson is one of those writers I’ve always *meant* to read, but am a little intimidated by what I imagine to be his incredible complexity. I fear I’d be completely lost by the second chapter. I think some people have the same impression of Proust, although he’s quite easy to read.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F.

        Eh, the complexity is in what your brain does when you look at the thing he shows you.

        He comes out and explains the scene. It’s just that, when I was a teenager, all I saw was the people jacking into the web. Now I also see the uncollected trash he mentions, piling up in the alleyways.Report

  2. Avatar gabriel conroy

    Je n’ai jamais lu l’ouevre de Proust. Helas, je ne lis pas le francais si bien qu’auparavant. Il me faudra donc peut-etre la lire en anglais.

    ETA: Je voudrais bien la lire quand meme!Report

  3. Avatar Slade the Leveller

    Currently re-reading Colson Whithead’s Zone One. It’s Whitehead’s dip into genre fiction, and a very good read.Report

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