I am on our local bookstore’s mailing list and get notified of different events that are happening in their store. Recently, when I saw a notice that writer Daryl Gregory was going to be there for a book-signing, I recognized his name and looked to see if I had a book by him – and indeed, I did: Pandemonium, which was apparently his first book. But I read it long enough ago that I didn’t remember it much at all. So I decided to re-read it (it’s fairly short) before going down to see him. He was very entertaining and interesting to hear talk. And I really enjoyed speaking to him briefly. He was tickled to hear that I was reading Pandemonium TWICE. And I ended up buying copies of 3 more of his books, including his latest. And he signed them all.
Join us for our Brave New Worlds series starting off with author Daryl Gregory on Friday, May 2, 7pm in our Petaluma store.
Daryl Gregory is the remarkably inventive and award-winning author of genre-mixing novels, stories, and comics.
His first novel, Pandemonium, won the Crawford Award and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His other novels include the Philip K. Dick award finalist The Devil’s Alphabet and Raising Stony Mayhall, which was named one of the best books of the year by the Library Journal.
His newest science fiction book, Afterparty, is a mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, a marvelous mix of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, and perhaps a bit of Peter Watts’s Starfish: a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.
Lyda Rose, a patient in a detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the new brain-altering drug called Numinous, which makes you religious. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other scientists in a quest to set things right.
I finished my second reading of Pandemonium on the 3rd (and yes, I really enjoyed it – and I think I caught some subtle nuances that might’ve escaped me the first reading – like where he says “One thing is clear: Jungians loved yargon.“) I then started his next book, The Devil’s Alphabet, finishing that a few days later on the 9th and then reading Raising Stony Mayhall (and I especially loved this one). I then proceeded to read the latest of his wonderful novels, Afterparty, which I finished on May 29th.
Daryl Gregory is obviously a very intelligent man and I think he is a superb writer. His characters are so well-written that you feel you are in the story alongside them and you really care about what happens to them. He is keenly perceptive about human relationships and even though these stories are about strange, even bizarre situations, there is so much basic human truth contained within them that they are just wonderful.
The Devil’s Alphabet was set in the South, and because I spent a lot of years growing up back there, I could really relate to many things in this story. There was one section that made me stop and reflect for a minute:
“Pax laughed, and then they lapsed into silence. They sat without talking for several minutes. In the north people didn’t just sit, Pax realized. Not unless they were on the bus or trapped in a waiting room. You said what you needed to say, then you moved on. At some point in the past dozen years he’d stopped noticing the Yankee rush to fill the silence.”
I could relate to many of the themes in these books; for instance, how it was to be brought up in the south in a religious family and having to come to terms with that. Religion comes into play in various places in his stories. When I saw him at Copperfield’s in fact he said that his latest book was an obvious “coming out of the closet” as an atheist and he wondered how his parents were going to deal with that. And finally, I will say that he has a wonderful, if slightly odd, sense of humor and I very much like that. I will certainly look to read any future books of his.