There’s a distinct feel to the work of William Gibson. It’s in the details; the lists of products, the designer gear, the odd books characters read (Gibson put me onto Geoffrey Households wonderful Rouge Male), the strange occupations and lifestyle choice. The esoterica of modern life. If Gibson ever slips it’s when he drops a name or a brand that you are familiar with, piercing his romantic patina of ultra hip facades.
Spook Country features an ex-rock star journalist in recovery (from being in a band), a prescription drug addict detained by a rouge intelligence operative and a Chinese Cuban Santeria practitioner who works in the shadowy world of freelance information exchange. The action takes places across North America and features, as its backdrop, a secret cold civil war between factions within the American government.
Taken entirely at face value that might seem like a bad high concept movie that stars Keanu Reeves but it reckons without Gibsons dry sense of humour;
“Milgrim dreamed he was naked in Brown’s room, while Brown lay sleeping. It wasn’t ordinary nakedness, because it involved an occult aura of preternaturally intense awareness, as though the wearer were a vampire in an Anne Rice novel, or a novice cocaine user.”
It’s even funnier if you imagine the author narrating it himself in his quasi Burroughsain drawl.
Spook Country possesses a beautiful, clean prose style that never strains to impress. Like the best music it seems to induce a contact high, a stoned glide through the pages. I like to imagine William Gibson, in his Vancouver house, exploring the world via the internet, stumbling on the new, the novel, the odd. Observing with a zen, perhaps slightly bemused, detachment and then, between tokes, putting it all down on the page, one word at a time.
Title: Spook Country
Author: William Gibson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons