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Distrust That Particular Flavor [Hardcover]

William Gibson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 3 2012

William Gibson is known primarily as a novelist, with his work ranging from his groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, to his more recent contemporary bestsellers Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. During those nearly thirty years, though, Gibson has been sought out by widely varying publications for his insights into contemporary culture. Wired magazine sent him to Singapore to report on one of the world's most buttoned-up states. The New York Times Magazine asked him to describe what was wrong with the Internet. Rolling Stone published his essay on the ways our lives are all "soundtracked" by the music and the culture around us. And in a speech at the 2010 Book Expo, he memorably described the interactive relationship between writer and reader.

These essays and articles have never been collected-until now. Some have never appeared in print at all. In addition, Distrust That Particular Flavor includes journalism from small publishers, online sources, and magazines no longer in existence. This volume will be essential reading for any lover of William Gibson's novels. Distrust That Particular Flavor offers readers a privileged view into the mind of a writer whose thinking has shaped not only a generation of writers but our entire culture.


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Review

"A provocative, surprising look at the lesser-known parts of a sci-fi superstar's writing career." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

William Gibson is the author of books including Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive, and Burning Chrome.

Robertson Dean has recorded hundreds of audiobooks in most every genre. He's been nominated for several Audie Awards, won nine Earphones Awards, and was named one of AudioFile magazine's Best Voices of 2010.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Will the Real William Gibson Please Stand Up? Feb. 5 2012
Format:Hardcover
First, let me say: I am a fan. I have been since the beginning. As a Teacher I have used William Gibson's books and stories in my Classes MANY TIMES over the years. I have read "Zero History" at least a half dozen times since I bought the hardcover, and I STILL could not accurately explain the plot! This is because I LOVE THE WAY WILLIAM GIBSON WRITES... The way he assembles words into descriptions.

However...

This collection, to me, is a lot like the drivel a Record Company will put together and market after the death of a popular Artist.(Unknown, previously un-released studio sessions, live performances, etc.) There will always be something there for the fans (and believe me, I AM one, and have been since Neuromancer) but "Distrust That Particular Flavor" comes off as "cashing in on the Brand that is William Gibson".

I personally, would rather re-read W.G.'s actual, crafted work (each read is a new read, right?) than hash-ups like this one appears (to me) to be.

That being said, the collection does have its moments... True, they are few, and in true W.G. form more emerge upon second (or third) read, but it is the opinion of this reader that, if you are a fan, you will most certainly find *something* in this collection, but download the pdf when it becomes available. (Kinda like "wait until it comes out on dvd".

Brian D. McCarthy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Prose Haiku from William Gibson Jan. 13 2012
By John Kwok TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
William Gibson has said more than once that science fiction possesses a unique toolkit for dealing with our science fictional present. He said that again when I asked why mainstream writers are turning increasingly to science fiction during a question and answer session held during his New York City literary event for this very book. He could have offered similar advice to journalists with respect to their narrative nonfiction and journalistic reporting; "Distrust That Particular Flavor" makes a most powerful case for that, in vivid, often concise, prose that will remind his most ardent fans of his early "Sprawl" stories and others collected in "Burning Chrome" and the novels "Neuromancer" and "Count Zero", and one that also evokes "Idoru", and other, later novels like "Zero History", in its relentless attention to detail. Any new book written by William Gibson should give readers ample cause for celebration, but this, his first foray into nonfiction, is not only a most distinguished collection of essays, but one that will be admired for years.

There is undoubtedly a strong cyberpunk-like beat in much of Gibson's narrative nonfiction. His poignant remembrance of his favorite SoHo (New York, NY) antiques store written within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ("Mr. Buk's Window") could have easily been part of one of his early "Sprawl" stories (Not surprisingly, he admits in a concise afterword that that antiques store would inspire him to finish writing the novel he had just started; "Pattern Recognition".).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if You are a Gibson Fan Jan. 7 2012
By Ray Mercier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really like William Gibson's books; I only know of one I haven't read. I have often wondered how he came to see things the way he does since I am about the same age, work in electronics, and I did not see so much of today's changes coming. I can't say I have an answer to that question after reading "Distrust That Particular Flavor". I did find this collection of essays interesting reading. This is not the book of the year, as one reviewer wrote. It is a collection of book introductions, talks, and magazine articles with afterwords comments added by Mr. Gibson where he gives his thoughts looking back at his works. It shows that Mr. Gibson, like the rest of us, is no clairvoyant. For the Gibson fan, buy it. For those who are trying to write the next big Sci-Fi novel and hoping to find Gibson's muse, move on. William Gibson appears to write things the old fashion way; hard work and a lot of typing.
Note on Amazon Kindle version: One chapter refers to pictures that do not appear. The Kindle version gets a "D". Amazon needs to get it's act together.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The artist behind the art Jan. 7 2012
By flaviolius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've been a fan of William Gibson's fiction for a long time, and have marveled at his ability to portray modern life as it almost is. He always seems a step ahead of what is current, in one way or another, and is able to communicate his ideas in a starkly written style that always manages to seem slightly ambiguous. However, with the release of this collection of non-fiction, I realized I never gave much thought to Gibson himself....until now. Through reading these pieces, I've gained a new and deeper appreciation for Gibson's fiction.

For the most part, these articles, essays, and lectures are written in the first person, which was a revelatory experience for me. I'd never read any of the pieces in this collection, so it was like seeing something familiar with brand-new eyes. The insight contained within is invaluable; not only did I learn much about Gibson's mind and what makes him tick, I also unearthed a lot of background data for the events in his fiction. In that way, reading this book was much like listening to a director's commentary of a dearly loved film - I gained new perspective that emphasizes and deepens.

It's abundantly clear that Gibson is deeply intrigued by modern culture, whether it's technology, psychology, fashion, behavior, eBay, or YouTube, and reading his meticulous picking apart of trends is just as fascinating as experiencing his fiction. Gibson's sense of excitement and wonder are infectious, his attention to detail is razor keen, and his open-mindedness is inspiring. I was a fan of Gibson's work before Distrust That Particular Flavor, but I am now a fan of Gibson the man.

This is essential reading, not just for Gibson fans, but for anyone fascinated by the bizarrely intricate roller-coaster world we are living in.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing body of work. Jan. 5 2012
By M. Crane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Gibson's ability to distill the essence of post modernity is frighteningly precise and frankly fills me with jealousy! I loved this work when it was first printed in various periodicals and I'm delighted to have it in a bound collection. Reading Gibson's non-fiction is like buying tire chains for your mind, a great collection of ideas, concepts and language that give you some traction in our slippery, dangerous, post-capitalist, deadly Disneyland of a world.

And I'm still waiting for the garage Kubrick to emerge.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty, insightful and refreshingly self-deprecating Jan. 9 2012
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
He is credited with coining the term "cyberspace" and has written novels like NEUROMANCER and MONA LISA OVERDRIVE that have given us a glimpse of a frequently unsettling future. Now, in DISTRUST THAT PARTICULAR FLAVOR, William Gibson offers his first nonfiction collection, an assortment of 25 often quirky pieces, ranging from articles for magazines like Wired, Fortune and Time, to essays, book introductions and speeches. Witty, insightful and refreshingly self-deprecating, they reveal that Gibson is as talented in reflecting on our own time as he is in envisioning our collective future.

Perhaps that ability flows from his grasp of one of the recurring tropes that appear in these pieces. "All cultural change is essentially technologically driven," Gibson believes, a point he illustrates in "Googling the Cyborg," a speech delivered to the Vancouver Institute in 2006. In it, he describes what he calls the "Steam Engine Moment," a recognition that certain ideas have been around for a long time, but only blossom when they're destined to do so. He's less interested in the construction of physical robots as he is in the way our interactions with electronic media are creating what he calls an "Augmented Reality," offering us something approaching the universal library imagined by one of his literary heroes, Jose Luis Borges, for whose LABYRINTHS he contributed a preface that appears here ("A ridiculously unearned honor, to be asked to do this. I'm still embarrassed.").

Of writing about the future, Gibson told an audience at BookExpo America in 2010 that "imaginary futures are always, regardless of what the authors might think, about the day in which they're written." That's as true of George Orwell's NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, he argues, as it is of Gibson's own novel, NEUROMANCER, set in the 2030s, and published in the same year as Orwell's nightmare vision. He makes a similar point in an essay on H.G. Wells and his story, THE TIME MACHINE.

"Time moves in one direction, memory in another," Gibson observes of another one of his fascinations --- the notion, reflected as long ago as the time of the ancient cave painters, that ours is "that strange species that constructs artifacts to counter the natural flow of forgetting." In more than one piece, he notes, with an almost childlike awe, that we can turn on the radio or television and summon dead people back to life.

Gibson's travel pieces, revealing him as something of an idiosyncratic travel writer, are among the most entertaining ones here. "Disneyland with the Death Penalty" is his portrait of 1993-vintage Singapore, a "relentlessly G-rated experience, micromanaged by a state that has the look and feel of a very large corporation," and a place where economists can be tried for revealing the country's growth rate or a man sentenced to death for importing one kilogram of marijuana. He has a special affinity for Japan, the setting for some of his fiction, and a country he describes as "the global imagination's default setting for the future," even after the bursting of its economic bubble.

Although Gibson's writing doesn't typically veer too far into the personal, there's an amusing, if overlong, article for Wired, "My Obsession," recounting his fascination with bidding on mechanical watches on eBay. He also confesses his love of the music of Steely Dan ("Any `Mount of World"), describes an abiding affection for the city of London ("Metrophagy") and confesses, most shockingly, in "The Net is a Waste of Time," that at least as of 1996 he didn't use email ("In all truth, I have avoided it because am lazy and enjoy staring blankly into space...and because unanswered mail, e- or otherwise, is a source of discomfort.").

Gibson is nothing if not humble, as he reveals in an Introduction that explains how he came to the writing vocation. Admitting he's not entirely comfortable making the transition from fiction to nonfiction, he concedes he has "often felt as though I'm applying latex paint to the living room walls with a toothbrush." One especially enjoyable feature of the collection are the comments, ranging from a sentence or two to a few paragraphs, that Gibson appends to each of the pieces, reflecting on their provenance or the circumstances of their creation.

William Gibson doesn't reveal any preternatural gift here for gazing into the distant future with startling clarity. Instead, he has been blessed with an even more valuable talent: the ability to keenly observe the present and show us how the changes it's already spawning someday will insinuate themselves into our lives.

Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 21st Century Prose Haiku from William Gibson Jan. 12 2012
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
William Gibson has said more than once that science fiction possesses a unique toolkit for dealing with our science fictional present. He said that again when I asked why mainstream writers are turning increasingly to science fiction during a question and answer session held during his New York City literary event for this very book. He could have offered similar advice to journalists with respect to their narrative nonfiction and journalistic reporting; "Distrust That Particular Flavor" makes a most powerful case for that, in vivid, often concise, prose that will remind his most ardent fans of his early "Sprawl" stories and others collected in "Burning Chrome" and the novels "Neuromancer" and "Count Zero", and one that also evokes "Idoru", and other, later novels like "Zero History", in its relentless attention to detail. Any new book written by William Gibson should give readers ample cause for celebration, but this, his first foray into nonfiction, is not only a most distinguished collection of essays, but one that will be admired for years.

There is undoubtedly a strong cyberpunk-like beat in much of Gibson's narrative nonfiction. His poignant remembrance of his favorite SoHo (New York, NY) antiques store written within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ("Mr. Buk's Window") could have easily been part of one of his early "Sprawl" stories (Not surprisingly, he admits in a concise afterword that that antiques store would inspire him to finish writing the novel he had just started; "Pattern Recognition".). He has written a most concise tribute to "Steely Dan" ("Any `Mount of World") that not only pays tribute to the songwriting duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, but does so in such a way that anyone reading it will think that it is really a free verse poem instead of a most insightful piece of criticism. He finally explains his interest in Japanese culture in several compelling essays that explain why he thinks Japan represents our future. When he writes about his visits to Japan and Singapore, he does so in narratives that are so eerily reminiscent of his densely layered prose in novels like "Neuromancer", "Idoru", and even his most recent ones like "Pattern Recognition", and especially, "Zero History". Readers will be pleasantly surprised reading how he finally succumbed to the ample charms and distractions of the Web via eBay in his essay "The Net is a Waste of Time". And of course, he also discusses his longstanding admiration for writers as diverse as H. G. Wells, George Orwell, J. G. Ballard and Samuel Delany. In short, Gibson has given readers a concise introduction into his thought and an introductory trek that is one well worth taking.
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