Cryptonomicon (was Re: [DWJ] Pratchett Convert)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Thu Jul 27 03:54:45 EDT 2006

On Wed, 26 Jul 2006 23:31:16 -0400, Elizabeth Parks wrote:

>Melissa, I'd be fascinated to know what you thought of Cryptonomicon as a
>book, not just a weapon.

I just re-read it a few days ago, and the story of why I did is a large part
of what I think about the book.  I was actually in the middle of another
book and enjoying it very much when for some reason I realized I was
remembering _Cryptonomicon_.  (This was odd because the book I was reading
was about as far removed from it conceptually and textually as anything
could be.)  I thought, "I'd like to read that again."  Then I realized I
wanted to read it again RIGHT NOW.  This led to much farce and merriment as
our copy is on permanent loan to someone else, and I had to drive to two
different libraries to hunt the thing down.  I realize this makes me not
just odd, but possibly a mental case.  All I can say is: you know how
sometimes you get a craving for, say, Nacho Cheese Doritos, and you drive
out to the store at 1 a.m. in your bathrobe, and then you eat the whole bag?
Well, we're both obsessed, but only one of us is now fat.

Reading _Cryptonomicon_ the first time was exhilarating.  Neal Stephenson is
one of those people who can make even the most ordinary happenings of
everyday life interesting to read about.  The book isn't fast paced, and
frequently there are scenes that seem to have nothing to do with the plot,
and I DIDN'T CARE.  I found great pleasure in the fact of reading it,
greater pleasure in an interesting and complicated plot, and deep
satisfaction in the subject matter.  But it's a book that would have been
dense at half the size (918 pages in hardcover, including the appendix) and
there was a lot I didn't get.  I didn't like the modern bits as
much--probably because I really didn't like Randy Waterhouse very much--and
keeping track of all the characters was a strain.  So when I was done, I had
the memory of how pleasurable the act of reading it was, but quickly forgot
all but the broadest details of the plot.

Coming to it the second time, with the entire _Baroque Cycle_ as reference,
I found it a very different experience.  Seeing the Waterhouses and the
Shaftoes of both generations in the light of their ancestors both changed my
understanding of them and made it a lot easier to remember who was who and
why it mattered. 

>I liked the WW2 parts but not so much the modern parts, and thought that it
>had the weakest and most limitedly sexual women (they were nothing but
>sources of sexual feelings for the men) of any recent book I've read.
>2006/7/26, Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at>:
>> On Wed, 26 Jul 2006 17:23:04 -0600, O.Elizabeth Perry wrote:
>> >
>> >On Jul 26, 2006, at 1:03 PM, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>> >
>> >> On Wed, 26 Jul 2006 10:58:00 -0600, rohina at wrote:
>> >>> Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>> >>>> When I grow up,
>> >>>> I am probably going to be Granny Weatherwax...unless I am
>> >>>> already, which is possible.
>> >>> Melissa, you have far too many children to be Granny
>> >>> Weatherwax. You are more likely to be Nanny Ogg! :-D
>> >>
>> >> Well, if we're going to take a purely *biological*
>> >> approach, sure....
>> >
>> >After all, _you_ can't bind a unicorn with one of your
>> >hairs.  Sorry.
>> No, but I can knock it silly with a quick left hook and a copy of
>> _Cryptonomicon_.  Then I can drag its smelly butt wherever I want.
>> Melissa Proffitt
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