New: Book Report: Signal & Noise

Of course you are glad that John Griesemer wrote a novel around the laying of the first transatlantic undersea telegraph cable. But you're also thinking A telegraph book would be far too nerdly to discuss at my book group. I won't bother reading this one.

Well, do not hang back. Dive into this book. Though it is built upon a nerdly subject, it is Literature. Did you notice that capital 'L'? I meant it.

This book has themes running through it. The main characters are obsessed with various signals. One wants to build a cable. One wants to paint a mural. One wants to speak with the dead. One wants to achieve astral projection. There is a theme of tricksters using do-nothing impressive-looking new-fangled devices to fool the public.

The reader stays amused: There are quirky characters. There are raunchy scenes. There is triumph, treachery, art, and arson. This book has everything you want, and nothing more.

All I want now is a sequel. Maybe taking place a few decades later, set around the retrieval and repair of a faulty undersea telegraph cable. It could have loving, detailed descriptions of some advanced grapnels. And characters obsessed with dredging up pieces of their past and trying to make them right. That would be awesome.


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Posted 2005-02-19