Entries from July 2009

My Favorite Author ...

is Neal Stephenson. Without a doubt! I've read all of his books save one (haven't gotten around to Zodiac yet). I devoured all three weighty volumes of his Baroque Cycle, and bought Anathem the very day it came out, which I almost never bother with for any other kind of new release—artistic, technological, or otherwise. I didn't read the Harry Potter books until years after they were published, and I own no Apple computer products at all!

So there is some empirical evidence that Neal Stephenson is my favorite author. But lately I've been dwelling on why that might be, and I think I have part of an answer. Reading his books I am constantly running into ideas and observations, clearly and artfully developed, that I've thought of before, only vaguely. I've spoken with a friend of mine, also a Neal Stephenson fan, about this, and he confirms it is so for him also. It's a thrill to see someone with real talent flesh out the sketchier, dimly-lit parts of your own mind.

This is an intellectual pleasure, of course, but there is a more primitive reason as well. It hits that "someone gets it" part of the brain, provides the sense that you are not alone, that there are other people like yourself.

This is a feeling that all humans crave, but that unusual humans experience only rarely.