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Mark Gladding has commented on (1) product.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Mark Gladding, January 17, 2008

The story starts out reasonably normal. The main character, Alan, buys a house, moves into the neighbourhood, renovates the house, meets his neighbours and plans to write a novel. It's only when Alan starts to recount his past that we realize that he's had a rather strange upbringing. Initially I thought Alan was speaking metaphorically when he referred to his father as the mountain and one of his brother's as an island. However when his mother is revealed to be a washing machine, and three of his brothers a trio of nesting dolls, each born 30 days apart in three violent spin cycles, there's no doubt this is not your average family.

Unlike his brothers, Alan is outwardly normal and the story traces his attempts to fit into society and lead a normal life. Along the way he meets Kurt, a punk who's main passion is dumpster diving for discarded tech that he can recycle and sell on eBay in order to finance the free wireless mesh network that he's rolling out in his neighbourhood. Alan quickly joins his cause and the two become fast friends.

I loved the idea of the free mesh network, so it was an amazing coincidence when Bruce Schneier wrote in Wired magazine last week that he ran an open wireless router and urged people to `Steal this Wi-Fi`.

I particularly enjoyed Cory's writing style. He seems to be able to paint the most vivid of scenes using just a few, well chosen words. I felt like I was right there with the characters, able to taste, touch, hear and see everything they experienced.

The one thing I didn't like was the way Cory keep changing the names of Alan and his family throughout the entire book. Perhaps it was meant to show that they were all trying to fight for a real identity in normal society but I just found it annoying. The only consolation was each brother always had a name starting with the same letter and this letter was determined by their birth order (i.e. Alan was the oldest, George the youngest).

All in all Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is an imaginative, entertaining read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Highly Recommended!
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