Saturday, 24 November 2012

Pattern Recognition - William Gibson

Pattern Recognition was one of my top 5 books as teenager, largely because of its style. For example, the opening:

Pattern Recognition: Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes up in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.
It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option right now.

16-Year-Old Me: Ah man, I am about to be soooo cool!

It's the rhythm of Gibson's language that really got me as a 16 year old, and still grabs me today. Reading this now felt like finding a band you loved as a kid, listening to them again and discovering that they are not, in fact, embarrassing, but still awesome. It's a good feel, you guys.

Celebratory panda gif.

So what's this nostalgia-inducing gem about, then?

Cayce (pronounced "Case") Pollard is an advertising consultant, a coolhunter. She's keenly aware of the hottest trends and can tell at a glance whether a product or brand will sell. An anxiety disorder that is triggered by brands helps her in her work, but makes living in our commercial world, oh, a tad difficult. Now, the No Logo thing reads like the Original Hipster,

Presenting: The Hipsteriest Gif on Tumblr

but Cayce can pull it off. She's endearing. She has flaws and obsessions. She is weird, and I like her.

Cayce is in London to consult on a new logo designed by the advertising company Blue Ant. While there, she's offered another assignment. Obscure segments of film footage have been surfacing on the web, and they've developed a frenzied underground following, which Cayce counts herself among. Now, she's been asked to find the maker. 

The book follows Cayce in her international search for the footage's creator. There's intrigue and suspense and shifty characters, and in the background are Cayce's ever-present thoughts of her father, who was last seen in New York City on September 11, 2001. 

I love this book. The first half of the story stayed fresh in my brain from my many teenage reads, and the first half is what I enjoyed most this time around. As the mystery unraveled and the thriller peaked, I became less invested. But still, one of my favourites.

AND, my Dad has kindly informed me that Gibson wrote two follow-ups to Pattern Recognition: Spook Country and Zero History. You can bet those have rocketed to the top of my TBR list. 

This is getting problematic.


  1. Dude, you made this book look good. To me. Which is surprising because it is not my generally accepted cup of tea. So THANK YOU for your writey words. And of course, as always, stellarly-chosen gifs.

    1. Gifs are the most important thing, so thank YOU.

  2. Pretty cool review! I'm a sucker for mysteries so I'll have to check this one out. Especially love that there are follow up books out there!

    1. Thank you! I'm looking forward to reading the follow-ups. I think they just kind of take place in the same world, with some of the same characters, but they don't continue along the same plot as Pattern Recognition. Which is good, because it was pretty much wrapped up.


Talk to me, internets.