John Elway is Ugly and Stupid, but the Super Bowl Commercials are Great
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash reads like watching the Super Bowl. The commercials are really a lot funnier and culturally important than the game itself. The plot of the book is really corny, and if you read it for that alone, you really won't have much fun. Since the plot was so dumb, I wound up enjoying the vast number of digressions that Stephenson uses. Most of them were pretty dumb as well, but I had a good laugh every so often.
Classmate Steve Cook sees this lack of plot adherence as a problem. While I'm not going to argue against that -- as I don't think the book was very substantial, and that argument would inevitably involve my defending Stephenson's writing -- it isn't all a bad thing. Like the Super Bowl, Snow Crash is not so much about a main plot as it is about peripheral issues and ideas. They are where the real cultural commentary lies and they are where most of the original and interesting thinking gets done. It's like having some chicken to go with your stuffing and rice. Of course, this de-emphasis has roots in far better literary works, particularly something like James Joyce's Ulysses. It's hardly a new idea, but at least Stephenson has used it to amusing effect.
[To other discussions of Snow Crash by members of English 111, Cyberspace and Critical Theory, Spring 1998.]