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Friday, February 18, 2005

Cryptonomicon- Can you dig it?

About 4 years ago I read somewhere that President Lincoln read deeply, not widely. Basically he read the Bible and Shakespeare over and over. I thought this was fantastic. Since college I'd read widely, hell, you might even say shallowly- zipping through novels whose comprehension required the same brain wattage as your average Three's Company episode. So for about two years I read and reread Shakespeare's plays, taking breaks from reading the plays only to read critics of Shakespeare.

Reading deeply is much, MUCH better than reading shallowly, or even widely. After I'd mastered Shakespeare (hehehe) I began reading widely again, and one of the first novels I picked up was Cryptonomicon. Having reaquired the shallow-reading habit I read it quickly, skimming through the math, not allowing confusion about the chronology or anything else to slow me down. Still, I thought it was great.

But about two weeks ago I decided to read it DEEPLY. Now I think it is great, not like, "Coca-cola is great!" but like "A Catcher in the Rye" is great. The deeper I delve, the more treasure I find. This man is a great writer. I'm going to start putting tiny excerpts from Cryptonomicon in this blog... Just so y'all can dig it like I dig it.

The following simile requires a little setup. It is enough to know that the narrator is describing Goto Dengo's day, and that Goto Dengo is a Japanese soldier during WW2- formerly stationed in Shanghai- currently on a troop transport watching American torpedo bombers destroy his troop trasnport's escorting destroyers.
Take a breath. Okay here we go:

Tiny black things are skip, skip, skipping all over the ocean now, like fleas across the rumpled bedshets of a Shanghai whorehouse.

like fleas across the rumpled bedsheets of a Shanghai whorehouse... Say the sentence aloud... again, slower... Can you dig it?


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