Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Big U, Neal Stephenson

The Big U
Neal Stephenson

Another one for Jeremy, but this time only because of the college setting, not because of anything specific. In fact he's expecting only one book from me, not two. (That surprise will be spoiled now if he reads this... I doubt it, but with Jeremy you never know.)

Anyway... The Big U is a farcical view of college. The setting is a major urban university. The entire place is contained in one vast building - the plex - in which myriad crazy things happen. Jeremy will not recognize the place personally as his school is nothing like the one described here at a physical level. But the people, well, I hope he will have some laughs.

Stephenson's writing is light, even when things take a serious twist. His vision of human affairs in the vast place he describes is both funny and poignant. Things just happen here, usually with no repercussions. Pianos are thrown onto distant roofs, people are factionalized in crazy ways, drugs and booze run rampant, and actions rarely have any basis in reality.

Jeremy, I hope your college days are a lot better than this. Have fun, but stay sane my friend. And be sure to avoid the Crotobaltislavonians!