The neuromantic: William Gibson’s latest book is a work of science non-fiction

Jan 16, 2012 – 7:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 13, 2012 4:22 PM ET

Peter J. Thompson/National Post
William Gibson, photographed at Blowfish Restaurant in Toronto.

William Gibson has a complicated relationship with his new book. He is, as he makes clear both in print and in person, uneasy about releasing a collection of non-fiction into the world. For years, he tossed the occasional magazine essay or newspaper article he’d written in a plain cardboard box he kept tucked away in his Vancouver home. From time to time, he thought about publishing a limited-edition volume of the work with some small, independent press. But when Gibson’s publisher asked for something to tide readers over between novels (his most recent, Zero History, appeared in 2010), “my agent said, ‘Well, there is this cardboard box … ’ ”
Distrust That Particular Flavor arrived in bookstores this month.
“I worry that this book will give somebody ideas,” he says, during a lunchtime interview at a Toronto Japanese restaurant late last week. Gibson, who speaks languidly and shuns eye contact, confesses, rather sheepishly, that he’s been avoiding his editors at Wired, and the other publications to which he contributes, in recent weeks. “I’m dodging them desperately.” He distrusts the form. In the collection’s introduction, Gibson writes that working on these essays and articles “felt as though I was being paid to solo on some instrument vaguely related to one I actually knew how to play.” He’s a writer of fiction, first and foremost, and these pieces were written using “fiction-writing tools,” which, at least in his mind, banishes the results to some literary nether region.

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