Some of the books I read are quasi-recommended to me by a guy named Ken Myers, who is the creator and host of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. I've been a subscriber to Mars Hill for a number of years now because Mr. Myers often explores topics that I am deeply interested in. The interview he did a few years back with a writer named Neal Stephenson caught my attention, though ordinarily I would not have read Stephenson or his book, Cryptonomicon. I won't go into the book here, but I will say I liked it a lot and as I do with many authors, I sbusequently devoured Neal Stephenson's entire opus.
Stephenson has an unearned reputation as a recluse. What he actually is however, is an introvert, like me. On a web page that he constructed to stop people from incessantly bothering him, he wrote...
"When I read a novel that I really like, I feel as if I am in direct, personal communication with the author. I feel as if the author and I are on the same wavelength mentally, that we have a lot in common with each other, and that we could have an interesting conversation, or even a friendship, if the circumstances permitted it. When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly."
...which is how I almost always feel when I read any book I really like. He then went on to explain that many people who had liked his books (as I did) tried to contact him (as I had actually thought about doing), and that this is almost always a bad idea.
He reminded me of something I already knew: that introverts have vast stretches of a life of the mind that are often expressed in conversation as something like, "huh?" Introverts are always thinking but not often giving others visual cues that they are thinking. In fact, they are usually giving visual cues that suggest they are in some other place, a far away place. I've done this many times. Introverts are capable of wild feats of imagination and creativity, after which they want you, you, and especially you, to stay the hell out of their face!
Stephenson in the end, is saying something like, "please read my books and let's leave our relationship at that." Which is a good, a very good idea. And his books are great, at least I think so. I am currently reading one of them, The Confusion, which is a joining together of two related novels (they are con-fused, get it?). This book is the second in a series called the Baroque Cycle. The first of the cycle was Quicksilver. The baroque cycle itself is actually (not exactly) a prequel to Cryptonomicon, the book that interested me in Stephenson and his work. It follows the ancestors of the characters from Crypto, starting way back in the middle ages. It is, like Crypto, unbelievably well constructed and researched and written. The plot is admittedly hard to figure out, but it is so interesting and multileveled that it could only have come from the mind of a introvert.
If you've had any contact with NS's opus, I'd love to hear your thoughts on him via the comments button.