When in school, the tough kids fistfight. The Jocks arm wrestle. The losers try to drink each other under the table. But when nerds compete the ritual usually takes the form of long debates on the merits of Kirk vs. Picard. It’s just the way we’re wired.
He is aware at the outset of just how dangerous his words are:
He makes many other pointed remarks against the book. He wraps up with this:
I have heard other gripes against the book as well, such as the way Bobby Shaftoe’s story keeps cutting back into flashbacks without warning, leaving you wondering if you accidently skipped a page. Or what about the fact that despite being one of the main characters of the book, we have no idea of what Shaftoe looks like until after the halfway point. Or the part where Lawrence Waterhouse goes riding alone in the Pine Barrens, and the book goes to great pains to describe the scene with such generous use of metaphor that it takes two and a half pages before you realize you have no flaming idea what in the hell is going on or what Waterhouse is seeing.
This is not the first time I’ve seen the book scorned, or at least given low marks. In fact, I have yet to introduce anyone to the book and have them like it. I’m slowly coming to the realization that Cryptonomicon is not a book for normal people. Flaws aside, there are wonderful parts to this book. The problem is, you have to really love math, history, and programming to derive enjoyment from them. You have to be odd in just the right way to love the book. Otherwise the thing is a bunch of wanking. For me, realizing this is like realizing that the big brother you’ve always idolized is, among his peers, an incredible dork.
So it’s perfectly understandable that Alex doesn’t like the book. It just means that, unlike Cryptonomicon, he’s probably sensible and well-adjusted.
(Humorous charts swiped from around various forums. I dunno who made them. Good job, whoever you are.)
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