Thursday, December 14, 2017
Books

Review: Worlds of interest for your consideration in 'Distrust That Particular Flavor' by William Gibson

Ever since he coined the term "cyberspace" in 1981, speculative-fiction writer William Gibson has been a go-to guy for people eager to know where technology is taking world culture.

Turns out, being the go-to guy makes for a busy schedule. In addition to his 10 novels — the longer he writes, the closer his stories get to the present — Gibson has been a recurring contributor to magazines from Wired to Rolling Stone, has spoken at publishing events including 2010's Book Expo America and has written introductions to and reviews of books he's admired.

While he doesn't always bring forth wisdom, Gibson is usually interesting, so Distrust That Particular Flavor, a new collection of some of those nonfiction writings, is a breezy, engaging read.

Among other things, Distrust shows Gibson isn't your stereotypical SF guy. Topics range from Japanese culture to the joys of urban life to his pop music passions (Steely Dan, Moby Grape's Skip Spence). Sometimes he makes sweeping insights; more often, he's still working out his reactions to what he's experiencing.

In 1993, for example, Wired magazine sent Gibson to Singapore to get a read on the Asian economic powerhouse. The lengthy article that resulted, "Disneyland With the Death Penalty," paints the picture of a country "micromanaged by a state that has the look and feel of a very large corporation" — a nation with ambitious technological goals but whose chief creative outlets appeared to be shopping and eating. Singapore, Gibson notes, responded to the article by banning the import of Wired.

Unlike many collections of publishing ephemera from great or influential writers, Distrust includes at the end of each entry updates, clarifications or second thoughts from Gibson. A haunting piece on New York City, written for the Globe and Mail shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is followed by a note from Gibson explaining that the writing of the article helped him decide to continue writing the novel he had just started, with a character whose roots were firmly in New York. Gibson's straightforward discussion of his thinking at the time gives both the essay and the novel he later wrote — 2003's Pattern Recognition — an added dimension.

Distrust might be better for readers already plugged into Gibson's evolving fictional worlds. If he's new territory for you, a better introduction might be Gibson's Twitter feed GreatDismal (twitter.com/greatdismal), a smart, curiosity-powered series of posts and retweets mixing the author's passions (great writing, democracy movements, Vancouver food trucks). Like Distrust, it will take you to a lot of places you might not have realized you were interested in till he took you there.

Comments
Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks, Natalia Tena, joins A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

The bubble gum pink-haired, shape-shifting witch Nymphadora Tonks from the last four Harry Potter films is headed to A Celebration of Harry Potter next month.Natalia Tena marks her first appearance at the annual wizarding world celebration Jan. 26-28...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

Kids’ books a popular read at meteorologist Ginger Zee’s home

NightstandGinger ZeeZee, 36, is the chief meteorologist at ABC News. In her newly released memoir, Natural Disaster: I Cover Them, I Am One, the Rockford, Mich., native details her multiyear struggle with depression and her life in the limelight. "It...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Notable: 50 years ago

Notable: 50 years ago

Notable50 years agoThese three books document some of the events of the cultural watershed that was 1967.Ali: A Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Jonathan Eig is the first complete biography of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, who in 1967 refused to be dr...
Published: 12/14/17
Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

We live in the age of the hoax.Believe me.And if you don’t believe me, believe Kevin Young, author of the sometimes disturbing but always fascinating new book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.In it, Yo...
Published: 12/14/17
Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

Uber Eats is delivering 'free' chicken McNuggets across Tampa Bay

You'll still have to pay the delivery fee, but the 10-piece McNuggets are free.
Published: 12/13/17
What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

What to watch this week: New season of ‘The Librarians,’ Gwen Stefani’s Christmas special

MondaySEASON FINALE: The Gifted, 9 p.m., Fox: The team at Mutant HQ is divided on what to do next after Jace is forced to hand over something valuable to Dr. Campbell.Disney's Fairytale Weddings: Holiday Magic, 8 p.m., Freeform: A behind-the-scenes l...
Published: 12/11/17
This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

This week’s pop culture winners and losers: Tonya Harding edition

WINNERS: Tonya Harding The once disgraced Olympic figure skater is no longer on thin ice in the pop culture world. Harding joined Margot Robbie, who is playing her in the upcoming film I, Tonya, on the red carpet this week. While Harding pleaded g...
Published: 12/08/17

Book events: Victorian Christmas Event, Cheryl Hollon launch party

Book TalkCheryl Hollon (Etched in Tears) will appear at a launch party for the new book in her Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at Books at Park Place, 10468 Roosevelt Blvd. N, St. Petersburg.William Valentine (Cuban Charade) will s...
Published: 12/07/17
Mahaffey Theater cancels Garrison Keillor performance after sexual misconduct allegations

Mahaffey Theater cancels Garrison Keillor performance after sexual misconduct allegations

The Mahaffey Theater has canceled an upcoming performance by Garrison Keillor in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against the former host of A Prairie Home Companion.Keillor was to perform in St. Petersburg on Feb. 5, but the show's promo...
Published: 12/06/17
Review: History’s ‘Knightfall’ will please fans of epic history, popular culture

Review: History’s ‘Knightfall’ will please fans of epic history, popular culture

Sometimes a Templar Knight dies in your field and you have to return his master sword to the temple in Paris, because God's kingdom depends on it.All that happens to Parsifal (Bobby Shofield) in the first episode of History's new period drama Knightf...
Published: 12/06/17