I've felt like I've been in a bit of a reading rut lately. It feels like I've been unimpressed by most of the books I've read lately, but I've been getting my recommendations from the same sources and following the same due-diligence procedures as I have in the past. I refuse to believe books are getting worse - while there are many more shitty books being produced then in years past, there are also more good books being produced recently as well. Therefore the most likely culprit for my malaise is myself. Have my tastes changed without my realization? Has my tolerance for anything less than completely amazing shrunk? Am I just generally grumpy and upset and taking it out on my readings?
When the going gets tough, the tough reassess their datum. So I reread Neuromancer for the umpteenth time last week. I don't even know how many times I've read it - at least three dozen times is a rational guess. I read it the first time as a wee lad when it first came out and it completely blew me away. This was back in the days when email addresses used exclamation points instead of ampersands, a megabyte was an unfathomably huge chunk of storage, and the nascent internet held all the promise of a bright and glorious future of an interconnected humanity sharing their science, hopes and dreams. We've come to an interconnected first world sharing pictures of cats, so I guess the dream isn't totally destroyed yet - but I digress.
Neuromancer has spoken to me throughout my life: as a troubled teen, an aimless young adult, an alcoholic adult and a sober middle aged person different parts of the book have syncopated with my thoughts and feelings and not provided answers as much as provided a language for mapping my internal spaces. The way the setting unfolds from every character's position like a tesseract designed by a technofetishist doing rails of coke the size of Sharpies, how every character is filled with loneliness and wrapped in fear but is searching for a way to accommodate their need for companionship resonates with me in a way I can't describe without sounding like a ridiculous fanboy. Which I am, to be honest, but I'll spare us all the details.
So, yeah, I reread my all time most favorite book to see if I'd changed unbeknownst to myself. It turns out I haven't. If anything I appreciate it more as I grow older. I don't look up to Case and Molly like I used to; I don't want to be them or imagine myself living their life (ok, maybe a little...) but instead I think I can appreciate them more as characters that live their own lives separate from me. Even as my relationship with Case, Molly, Finn, Dixie, Wintermute and Rio evolve the world they live in is familiar and comfortable as a well worn blanket, a safe haven of lawless bright lights and technomagic.