Review of Anathem
Oct 7, 05:33 by IROSF
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I finished Anathem about a couple weeks ago, and I still haven't recommended it to anyone. I enjoyed the book well enough that I got through it. There are moments I love. And I see what Niall's responding to in the novel (though "book" and "novel" seem like an inadequate terms for the size of books Stephenson puts out. "Tome" maybe. Or to coin an Arbreism, "Logomass".).
But what makes me hesitate is that pound for pound, the book is so inefficient. It simply takes too many words, too many tangents, to achieve the effects that Niall is attracted to. I suspect that the Platonic form of "Anathem" is much closer 400 pages than 1000.
[ Edited: Nov 30, 00:00 ] [ Reply ]
But what makes me hesitate is that pound for pound, the book is so inefficient.
That's an interesting way of putting it, and though I'm not sure efficiency is always an absolute good for fiction to aspire to, I can't blame anyone for having that response -- as I said in the review, I had a similar, if anything stronger, negative response to Quicksilver. It probably helps that I read Anathem pretty quickly, in a week, so the moments where I did feel it was dragging, such as the journey over the pole, didn't go on too long.
But in the end I do think Anathem justifies its length better than any of Stephenson's other tomes to date, even if it does so by making Stephenson's habitual long-windedness a feature of the world in which it's set. Where I felt Quicksilver could be cut without losing anything, I think if you cut Anathem down too much you'd lose some of what makes the book distinctive.
[ Edited: Oct 8, 08:08 ] [ Reply ]
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