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katie b has commented on (1) product.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

katie b, January 26, 2010

without a doubt, Anathem was the most entertaining, original and thought-provoking book I have read in a long, long time - including all of the other wonderful writings by author Neil Stephenson.

Not only does the book give you a good story and original thoughts about many topics I have seen in the recent pop-science literature, but it provides a very unusual reading experience as well.

The story line takes right off from the start, using a lot of "original" (shall I say "made up" instead?) vocabulary. It took a few trips to the dictionary to determine which really were original and which were words I just hadn't encountered - Stephenson has always had a prodigious vocab... until I learned through reading just to "let go" and let the story reveal the meanings. That was one of the reading experiences right there.

In getting into the story, my mind was making a lot of side trips triggered by the new words and the ways they were used. Those mental side trips in themselves were interesting and actually part of the overall story line (I'm trying to avoid the spoiler review, here). As you read, the meanings and the "logic" within the meanings of these new words begin to work into your head. Yes, while the story is going on - there is no problem in following the story line. This isn't dense verbiage, just newness.

After I had read about half the book, I went back and re-read the first chapter, finding that all of the newness I had experienced in the vocabulary the first time was gone - I found myself wondering why I didn't "get" everything the first time. And the answer is The Experience of reading it. And the uni-directional flow of time? Aha. You can't step in the same river twice, nor experience this book in the same way twice. How DOES Stephenson write like this??

Anathem is a good read, a wonderfully original story, and completely unforgettable. For any Stephenson fans who HAVEN'T read this yet - what is keeping you??? For everyone else, I envy the experience(s) ahead of you. Enjoy!
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