Sunday, December 21, 2014
Supposed to be somebody
I don't think I waited long enough to re-read this book All the other Gibson novels I've gone through this month have languished on shelves for years since I read them, but The Peripheral is barely two months old and I've already gone through it twice.
It doesn't suffer in the re-reading, it's remarkably clear and the writing is lovely throughout, but the drama is tarnished because I didn't wait long enough to forget what was going to happen.
But I have at least been able to ferret out a better understanding of who the characters are and what they're doing. This immediate rereading really opened me up to liking Wilf a lot more than I did the first time through - his unacknowledged exhaustion with the world he's living in is much more poignant when it's not overwhelmed with concern for the plot. I got to do more detailed study this time around instead of frenzied glossing over to figure out what was happening and, honestly, The Peripheral is full of stunning and haunting details.
I'm also completely fascinated by Gibson's uncanny ability to not only spin whole worlds out of nothing but to also make them immediately identifiable, understandable, and acceptable to the reader. I got a little lost with the language of fab and funny in my first reading of the first few chapters, but they were entrenched in my vocabulary by the second time I went through the story. I was similarly accepting of Ash's doubled pupils and rambling tattoos as prosaic when they'd seemed needlessly fantastic on my first reading. In this way the reader mirrors Flynne's journey - she has trouble finding her feet when she first uses the peripheral but catches up quickly and finds a home in London just as we stumble over unfamiliar language and concepts at first but then begin catching up and then begin adoring the world we've fallen into.
I almost never know what I'm going to write in these blogs until I write them, but writing this now I'm actually pretty surprised by how much I really enjoy The Peripheral, and how much I'm considering re-reading it when I get home tonight. I won't, because I want to wait for the mystery to build, but I'll think about it and the ability of Gibson's to write that kind of repeatability is just phenomenal.
Gibson, William. The Peripheral. Putnam. New York: New York. 2014.