Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Marty Demarest
Pattern Recognition is a departure for William Gibson, who usually writes about a plausible if frightening future. This time around, he has set his story approximately in the present. Among today's preponderance of advertising, media perspectives, and rapid exchanges of information, Gibson has found something more terrifying than the future: now.


Gibson brings his perspective to today's media culture through the book's heroine, Cayce Pollard. Pollard has the strange-sounding but very plausible job of a "cool hunter" - someone who watches for marketable trends among trend-setters, and then helps corporations incorporate those ideas, designs, and concepts into various lines of products. However, far from being simply a corporate whore, Pollard also has a desperate need to find something pure in her world. And so her personal life revolves around dozens of fragments of film that have been found online, and are being catalogued and analyzed by a global community of fans. Idolizing these movie snippets as anonymous, unbranded art, Pollard finds herself in a crisis when she's hired by the founder of an advertising agency to track down the filmmaker responsible for the footage.


Unfortunately, as realism starts to break down under the James Bond story, Gibson seems to get distracted from the work at hand. He's best when he's reminding us that our world no longer has a solid foundation on which to rest its language. Characters aren't described - they're compared to the actors that they most resemble. Even Pollard's first name isn't definitively pronounced, although she discusses it. And these things work even better when Gibson takes aim. At one point, Pollard imagines a "Tommy Hilfiger event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul."


Gibson's prose zooms along, seemingly missing all of its extraneous elements. Occasionally the sentences seem wounded, as though they've been cleansed of adverbs, rambling clauses, and extended descriptions - all the things, in other words, that make writing fun to read. But more often this style conveys a sense of implausible velocity, and suggests a world that's become so commercialized that even sentences are what I'd have to call manufractured. Perhaps there's a lesson here, but Gibson has elected to hide it in a spy story that just doesn't work, especially when it's following prefabricated patterns. And that's a pity, because everything else in it is beautifully designed.





Publication date: 04/03/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • The Price of Progress
  • The Price of Progress

    The Grand Coulee Dam has created billions in economic activity, but it also devastated local river tribes. What's standing in the way of reparations for the Spokane Tribe?
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • Breaking the Silence
  • Breaking the Silence

    The Carmel of the Holy Trinity nuns live in silence and isolation — but a proposed development could make that difficult
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • Watch List
  • Watch List

    ISIS singles out an Idaho town; plus, Spokane's campaign for paid sick leave
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
OR7 — The Journey

OR7 — The Journey @ Bing Crosby Theater

April 3-4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Why Idaho kids don't go to college

    And what that means for the Gem State
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • New Blood

    Candidates are launching bids for Spokane City Council and could bring big changes to city government
    • Mar 18, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


Comment


Publisher's Note


marijuana


long reads


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation