Saturday, September 03, 2005

Cory Doctorow's new book: as good as Ragtime?

First of all, Cory Doctorow is not related to E.L. Doctorow, or even El Doctorow, the enormous, savage genius locus of the Laboratoria de Idiomas (and El Doctorow is notoriously sexually prolific). Anyway, Cory Doctorow is one of these semi-annoying new internet & technology intellectuals like Neal Stephenson, and I suppose that he was one of the generals in the blog revolution, if the rise of the blog can be termed a revolution instead of, say, a pathetic sideshow.
Anyway, Cory Doctorow’s new book is called Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and it has no serious horrible flaws. Doctorow ends it with a twist that dramatically recasts the whole book yet is still kind of lame and unsatisfying, but it’s a magic realist fantasy so you shouldn’t read it for the plot anyway. He also includes many long, very earnest sections about public WiFi nets – his protagonist and a buddy are pitching public WiFi access to their town, and by the end of the novel we have seen them pitch it a few too many times and wish that Doctorow would have focused on the interesting family drama at the center of the plot. The protagonist, Alan, belongs to a strange family: his mother is a washing machine and his father is a mountain (one of his brothers takes after his dad and is an island). Doctorow treats this with enough mystery and delicacy that it works (if he had tried to explain exactly how things work it would have been a train wreck). Doctorow intimates that everyone comes from a weird family and is an outcast in his or her own way, joining a long and distinguished line of writers who probably include John Irving.
Doctorow has made the book available for free as a PDF, which seems like a rad thing to do. You can find it and all his other books at . Come for the free books, stay for the vitriol!

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