Monday, November 03, 2003

Reading Matters

I'm concentrating on fiction this week, reading for relaxation rather than edification and self-improvement. I have a mixed bag of books from the local library, mostly selected on impulse.

One of these is James L Halperin's The Truth Machine. Published in 1996, it's a speculative novel (that's what the front cover says), dealing with the development of a perfect lie detector and its effects on American society and the American legal system.

Like a lot of good novelists (for example Gunter Grass), Halperin adopts a narrative persona, who reports events from their own perspective:

Since you plan to read these words, you'll want to know who wrote them. I am an Intel 22g CP (22 billion instructions per microsecond contextual processor) from the series of 2046, specifically designed for reportage. I've been programmed to write in journalistic style, so don't expect scintillating metaphors or artistic imagery.

I've only reached page 70 and I'm not sure if I'll get much further, but I'm already sure that Halperin's choice of a computer as his narrator was a wise one.

Update, 30 pages later: very wise.

Update, another 30 pages later: bugger this. I've got a copy of J G Ballard's Crash somewhere that I've been meaning to read for years. And who's the dork who wrote all these pencil notes in the margins of this turkey?

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