a book review

authorConnie Willis
date reviewed2004.03.26

This is a light read, a story that follows a sociologist who's researching fads and how they're started. It's set in an academic setting, naturally, and has the interesting quirk of starting each chapter with a research note on a fad. The heroine's got a new assistant who seems to act without care or causality, who does things like "cleaning up the research documents left in piles" and branding her own forehead. Our heroine has to contend with the research granting program and the fallout of her assistant's many wire-crossings. One of these leads to a connection with a chaos theorist who is also a contender for grants but maybe also attractive. This is more of a "madcap" sendup and a bit of a romantic comedy than my usual fare, and I'm glad I picked it up on the recommendation of a staff review in the book store - it doesn't always have to be gloomy Ian Banks or dystopian Mick Farren!

Given that this came out a couple of years before Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point, it's interesting that the story pins fads on certain influencers. Of course in this case it's the lunatic assistant herself that leads to the breakthrough.

I enjoyed the story, it left me feeling up-beat and amused.

(One of the depressing things about maintaining a website over many years is that very occasionally something goes wrong and I lose my originally-published version of a review. This was one of those!)

👍🏼 recommended

rand()m quote

You have to choose between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the Government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the Capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.

—George Bernard Shaw