October 28, 2004
Holy 6700 word interview!

Neal Stephenson gets asked 11 questions by slashdot readers and answers - at very, very great length. Stephensons books have been growing for years. The "short" teaser essay "In the beginning was the command line", that warmed up to Cryptonomicon runs to 36000 words (that's something like 60 dense pages). Cryptonomicon itself was huge, and most recently The Baroque Cycle has grown to a 3 volume doorstopper. Stephenson simply likes to talk. He's good at it, and not necessarily chatty - he just likes to pilo on the details.

No wonder then that the answers to the Slashdot questions also run on and on.

The bulk of the material is actually an answer to one question on the esteem and livelihood of writers.IT illustrates perfectly the quality, and at the same time the problem with Stephensons writing. He simply can't begin to answer the question without a history of writing since before the printing press, establishing a nomenclature of independence and esteem, a telling personal anecdote from a book convention (actually two) and a discussion on the merits of literary criticism. This is the concept of the interview as far removed from the spoken word as you can possibly get.
It is fascinating to read, but one can't help but wonder if there isn't a shorter answer hidden in there that captures almost perfectly what Stephenson wrote pages to explain.

Posted by Claus at October 28, 2004 02:03 AM | TrackBack (0)
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