[REVIEW] Pattern Recognition

Pattern Recognition (Unabridged)
Author: William Gibson
Narrator: Shelly Frasier
Unabridged Fiction
Audio Length: 10 hours and 7 min.
I actually read this book before I got it on Audible (and I still have it on my bookshelf in hardback).
I’ve read a bunch of good and bad reviews (they seem to be polarized-its either really good or really bad) and I can identify with most of their points. Yes, there are plot holes, yes there are issues that normally wouldn’t magically work themselves out like they do here and some splintering of the story takes place with characters that normally would have been more important… normally, I say, because your average novelist follows an established framework.
Gibson does not.
His splinter characters do contribute to the mood, and to the aura of Cayce and her unreal labors. It worked for me.
But, continuing in its defense, there are also avalanches of words that are beautifully written (the first paragraph knocked my sock off); their reading hypnotic. On a personal level, there were so many references that trigger things which instantly made me sympathetic to this book and Cayce.
The whole discussion of jetlag resonates with me and my own travels. Cayce continues to deal with her father’s disappearance in the Sept. 11 attacks, and while I am far removed from New York, I have special people in New York City who’s loss would have simply devastated me. So many little coalescences that make me sympathetic to this character.
Publisher’s Summary:
Cayce Pollard is an expensive, spookily intuitive market-research consultant. In London on a job, she is offered a secret assignment: to investigate some intriguing snippets of video that have been appearing on the Internet. An entire subculture of people is obsessed with these bits of footage, and anybody who can create that kind of brand loyalty would be a gold mine for Cayce’s client. But when her borrowed apartment is burgled and her computer hacked, she realizes there’s more to this project than she had expected.
Still, Cayce is her father’s daughter, and the danger makes her stubborn. Win Pollard, ex-security expert, probably ex-CIA, took a taxi in the direction of the World Trade Center on September 11 one year ago, and is presumed dead. Win taught Cayce a bit about the way agents work. She is still numb at his loss, and, as much for him as for any other reason, she refuses to give up this newly weird job, which will take her to Tokyo and on to Russia. With help and betrayal from equally unlikely quarters, Cayce will follow the trail of the mysterious film to its source, and in the process will learn something about her father’s life and death.
2003 William Gibson; (P)2004 Tantor Media, Inc.

ST MARTIN ’02: Day 4

Tuesday: We spent most of Tuesday resting. It is a vacation after all. We lazed around, watched telly and, every once in a while, we’d look out over the view of Dawn Beach. J&R headed off to do some stuff, Daiv and I stayed at the resort for some downtime-24 hour other people isn’t our thing. We do well together since we aren’t attached at the hip, but when we are around other people *all the time*, we get a bit cranky-well, more than a bit. We walked the long arduous 2 minutes to the beach and stayed in the water bobbing in the waves and watching the afternoon clouds turn dark.
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The Caribbean is an interesting place. There are lots of people who are just sailing around the islands, expats who spend their time coasting around soaking up the sunshine and living what probably is a pirate’s life… its probably not as romanticized as that, but I admire the nomadic lifestyle.
We had reservations at Citrus later on that night. Its a fairly new restaurant on the island. I think its geared toward New Yorker’s and Californian foodies-evident in the decor- but the food ROCKS. I had the tasting menu that included oysters, a bit of game hen on ‘forbidden rice’ with pate, venison and a chocolate cake. I refrained from licking the plate, but that was a hard won battle. WONDERFUL food.

ST MARTIN ’02: Day 3

Monday: Monday! Things are open on Mondays. We headed in the counter clockwise direction again and went to The Talk of the Town in Grand Case for lunch. This little restaurant, called a lolo, has bbq chicken, ribs, shrimpies and fish (though the shrimpies left a lot to be desired) the bbq barnyard variety animals were pretty dang good. Lolo’s are apparently the way to go in St. Maarten/St. Martin. They are fairly cheap and don’t have tons of obnoxious tourists lolling around eating up the good food.
After lunch we moved on over to Marigot to see what they were like when they were actually open for business. None of the towns on the French side are very big. A few streets and many junk stores interspersed with obscenely expensive jewelry stores (I don’t understand the allure of all those badly designed rings and necklaces-except maybe resale value…not my style anyway. And those Lladro statues are tasteless. Yarg.) We dropped by to get another brioche and headed off to finish the circuit of the island.
It seems that we’re only allowed to go in one direction around the island…heh.
We stopped in Phillipsburg to get a week’s worth of dialup access, the web is rather popular around here. I counted about 3 or 4 internet companies here just roving around the island. That’s promising. Even Kentucky Fried, a major player here on the island, has a website (www.KFC-SXM.com). That I simply find surreal.
We wandered up and down Front street (the local row of shops for the cruise ships when they drop by for a visit) and found a tshirt for me, a sweatshirt that I couldn’t even conceive of wearing at that point, but intellectually I knew I’d wear it back home and some miscellaneous stuff to remind us of the trip. The Phillipsburg Liquor Company was the final destination for the day. The rums around here are cheap and plentiful. They range from sickly sweet (www.guavaberry.com) to the amazing RumJumbie. I’m not a big rum fan, but that stuff smells pretty dang good.
We trundled home after an exhausting day and decided to drop by another place recommended to us by a pal of a pal. The shack next door to a swanky, and rather lame restaurant, had great food and cheap beer for happy hour. We sweated out of every pore for about an hour and a half before we left. The little bar is the hangout for the local yahties and you have to trust the locals.
We decided to go swimming after the sauna of a meal and watched the stars come up over the lights on the horizon from St. Bart’s.

ST MARTIN ’02: Day 2

Sunday: We woke up and made coffee (necessary) got our collective acts together (only took 2 hours for 4 people-not bad) and got in the car to scope the island. We worked in the counter clockwise direction. Orient Bay is the local nude beach, though it was sparsely populated, and is completely beautiful. The sand is soft and fine. Apparently other islands’ sand isn’t so perfect and require Aqua Socks or the like to walk along the beach and shore.
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Grand Case is the next town along the way. It is what I think of when I think of a Caribbean vacation; brightly colored housed, narrow streets, a preponderance of tourists on scooters coming home after the morning shopping for fresh food. I’d probably try to stay there if I came back to this island.
Marigot, further along the Northwest side of the island, is a small French city. I felt like I was in a small French town when I saw the street signs, French traffic notes and the green cross denoting a pharmacy. I instantly homed in on a patisserie and nearly swooned when I had my first bite of a real pain au chocolat in about 3 years. A brioche and cafe creme later, I was fortified enough to get back in the car and ride back down into the Dutch part of the island and Phillipsburg again. One more pass at the supermarket to pick up some DIVINE Nutella gelato locally made (as well as other flavors-alas, they were out of the chocolate that we sampled the day before-but I can understand why there’s a chronic shortage of it.)
We played on Dawn beach in the afternoon and later on that night tested the hot tub at the resort’s pool area. It wasn’t hot, but it was warm enough to hang around for an hour or so before being ready for sleep.

ST MARTIN ’02: Day 1

Arrived about 8 hours earlier than budgeted owing to Daiv asking if we could take an earlier flight from Orlando to San Juan, PR and thence to St Maarten. I think we only arrived 15 minutes later than J and R. Their standing in line at customs/passport control and then having checked baggage (I knew they would ) saved us. We picked up the 4 wheel drive (necessary allegedly on these roads) and zoomed off toward town. Shopping at local supermarket was fun. Mostly found strange drinks instead of local foods that were different from home. We loaded up, tested some HEAVENLY gelato from “Cappuccino” based in Marigot and then left for Oyster Bay.
The time share is about what you’d expect from a vacation rental:tile floors (practical), cheap furniture and ugly art on the walls. But it was functional and had a kitchen. I’m not complaining, I’m happy when I can shower regularly and have a place to make coffee.
We bought a bunch of stuff for dinner but were all zombies and decided to go out.
Driving with J an R is a combinations of plucking your eyebrows and shaving your legs; its irritating, but it needs to be done – and generally leaves red marks. She hen-pecks him (he needs it) and he alternates between ignoring her and getting cranky.
I always find other people’s interactions in their relationships fascinating. =)
We ended up finding a lame, overpriced restaurant (that later we found on a list of lame restaurants) and ate..
I ordered lobster bisque and bouillabaisse with a couple of lumps of lobster chucked in and some roux. They took it off the bill luckily. $9 for three bites and I would have been crankier than I already as.
Got back and passed out.
Ah. A bed instead of a coach seat.

ST MARTIN ’02: Day 0

Sint Maarten is separated into two parts- St. Martin, ran by the French, uses Euros and has French bakeries that make me weep with joy, and the Dutch side that seems to me to be a throwover to the old pirate days. Its about the size of a lumpy San Francisco. The beaches are wonderful, the water is warm and somewhat tame despite the hurricane season and Lili, Kyle and Isadore running through the area. (I also haven’t seen any sharks or barracuda so far, and that’s fine with me.) We are staying on the Dutch side, almost on the border at Oyster Bay. Our balcony overlooks Dawn beach and we can walk to the beach in 2 1/2 minutes flat (3 if you are barefoot.)

Dang, its been a while since I’ve been on a long trip. (The long unemployed road trip doesn’t count.). And flying after 9/11 last year is paranoia personified to say the very least. People at you in the airlines look at you like you are the anti-christ and eating small children sandwiches. In fact, it was really only a chicken sandwich and I have no interest in taking over the world-contrary to popular belief.
Anyhoo, it will be 24 hours til we get to St Maarten adjusting for time zonage and no email in the interim. Wifi not being pervasive enough for my taste.
I will sleep well tomorrow night.

PARIS ’99: day 3: Happiness is a warm internet connection

Slogged out of bed (still sick) to nice offering of pain au chocolat and Carte Noire coffee on the thick side (mmm…motor oil.) and thank you bugboy!
Prepared myself to do battle with the three headed beastie of tourism and sallied forth into the wilds of Paris.
Deb spent her day toute seule [all by herself] as was her prerogative…and bugboy and I went to the 6th arrondissement.


Took the Metro to Mabillion and walked along the backside of St. Sulpice. I think that the back parts of cathedrals are so much more interesting than the front parts, so this wasn’t a bad thing at all.


It also was the direction rumored to hold an internet cafe.
I had done a search on the web of listed cafes and it worked completely miserably for London, so I didn’t have a lot of faith in it.
Stopped in a La Poste to get some stamps for my cartes postales for the fredlet fans at home and ended up with prepaid envelopes… not exactly what I had in mind, but the guy was so earnest about saving me money (not to mention that he was really nice and didn’t just switch into English because he knew I am american…which is a habit shared by MOST of the french people I know.) I love the look of the post cards with foreign stamps and postmarks and any abuse that it goes through in the journey home…à la Griffin and Sabine.
Followed the street around the back of Le Sénat down the Rue de Medecis and SUCCESS!
Cafe Orbital (complete with webcam..however, it doesn’t seem to be up at the time of this writing…so try occasionally and see if it works…) saved my life from a lethal case of DT’s from lack of email. Mailed all the people I had been craving and got my email from various and sundry webbies, surfed for a few minutes then my allotted time was up.
Cafe Orbital is right across the street from the Jardins de Luxembourg, so we walked over there long enough to get rocks in my socks then headed for the Boule Miche [Boulevard St. Michel]. I took bugboy into the McDonald’s for un coca [a coke] where I used to fuel my nights of drunken revelry back in 1990 (No really dad, you didn’t waste any money sending me to Paris for school…really). Say whatever you want, but its cheaper than eating just about anywhere in Paris…and when you are having withdrawals from coca cola, its dirt cheap.

Bugboy immediately cottoned on to the fact that it is indeed a “Royal Cheese” rather than a “Royal with Cheese” as was previously mentioned in Pulp Fiction.
Next door the the restaurant du diable [the devil’s eatery] was a cheesy postcard, bought a few more since I had previously exhausted my supply. Waved briefly up the Rue Soufflot to the Pantheon and we were off again.
Guibert Jaune lie in wait at the end of the Boule Miche. I ferreted out the papeterie [paper shop] au sous sol [in the basement]. Triumphant price on a wooden artists model (52FF=about $10, where in the states they are about $90!) nabbed a few more cadeaux [presents] drooled a bit more at all the art supplies and rounded off the fetishistic shopping trip with another notebook.


Notre Dame,


Notre Dame was trussed up like a pig in scaffolding, so the view was pretty dismal. We walked around back to the better view (IMHO) anyway. Flowers were magnificent in the sunlight and this really cute little girl with this funky camera was taking her mother’s picture.

La Petite Photographeuse

La Petite Photographeuse,

Moved along to the book sellers along the river in the 6th and perused their wares all the while viewing the fabulous view of Notre Dame de Paris in springtime. On whim, we decided to go to Pére Lachaise cemetery to visit Jim Morrison. After 10 years of visiting Paris, I had never made it over there…and it was high time I made the pilgrimage.
The 20th is a very calm place. I’m sure they get sick of the groupies hanging out in front of J.M.’s grave all the time. Lots of funky carvings and gorgeous graves. I took and entire roll of just funky looking things while I was there, and I’ll scan a few when I get them developed.
Cobblestones will kick your butt everytime though. After about 20 minutes, I was dying. (Mind you, I had made the 9 mile trek with no adverse effects the previous day…so it was the cobblestones.)
J.M.’s grave was quite sedate compared to the tales that my cousin had told me when she went there. I remembered her pics and her saying that there was a giant crowd, candles and a wake-like attitude..but it seemed to me to be more of a bunch of tourists with a macabre sense of curiosity. Oh well.
I decided it was time to test bugboy’s learning on how to ride the métro…so I made him lead me home. I was just going to follow him regardless of whether he made any mistakes…so if we ended up in London it was his problem. He did rather well and we made it home around 5:30 ish.
Deb was already back and we had dinner then went out for dessert. Late night pillage for essentials at the Monoprix across the street (Nutella, Carte Noire, cookies, etc…) and then home to bed. Am pooped.

total miles walked:approximately 6

PARIS ’99: day 2: will work for hip replacement…again

The third time I woke up (around 3 AM), I couldn’t go to sleep til about 6 AM. So 8 AM was a shock to my already exhausted system. I finally dragged my hiney out of bed around 9:30. Deb administered Carte Noire coffee-industrial strength and we chatted until 11.
The order of the day was walking.
Started off walking the Champs de Mars to the Eiffel Tower…struggled through tourists and up the river to the Pont de L’Alma, where Diana’s memorial is… graffittied and grotty looking. I’m disappointed about that, actually…and more than a little surprised. Something screamingly nasty has been released around there, so we trundled up to the Champs Elysées to remove ourselves from the psychic ickiness.
Fouquet’s for breakfast of pain au chocolate [chocolate croissant] pain au raisin [raisin roll] and brioche sucrée [sugar covered brioche]. There, snotty french waiters (normalcy returns) grumbled about the impending rain du jour. it didn’t rain though. =: )
Followed the Champs Elysées along to the Place de la Concorde and then up the Rue de Rivoli for semi-casual shopping. Deb avoided the ‘abortion’ (that I. M. Pei pyramid that is the entrance to the Louvre-I don’t think it is horrible, but I do think the context is a little wacky) but I dutifully took Bugboy for a looksee at its pointiness.
Toward the end of the Louvre we triumphed at the hunt with a pair of black criss-crossy shoes for me. yeah! Deb had shoe visions of another particular store, so we moved on. Also dodged into Marks & Spencer for Deb to grab some lounging shorts and while Bugboy and I were waiting on her we watched some bagpipe players in full regalia (Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, everything is in perfect working order…) but I really didn’t pay too much attention to the fact that they were way out of context in Paris since we were in a British store.
We had to stop for light sustenance after the first part of the day’s walk (it was after lunch, after all…) just past the Rue du Pont Neuf. More of the fabulous sandwich action and endless quantities of café crème that I adore…yum!
Walked past the Tour St. Jacques which is a giant flamboyant Gothic tower that they used to use for fire watches, but really isn’t used for anything anymore that I know of. Everyone I’ve ever talked to has a soft spot in their hearts for it…
This time it was Deb’s turn to return successful from the hunt. She scored a new pair of Arche sandals near the Pompidou Center …where we were headed to pillage the internet cafe.
D’OH! The internet cafe in the Pompidou didn’t even exist anymore! They were redoing the whole museum for the L’année 2000 and it was a casualty of the reconstruction. So much for mailing everyone. It was frustrating to say the very least since AOL, which supposedly will let people check their mail WASN’T letting me log on.
Deb was still in shopping mode, so we left her at Les Halles and metro’d it back to the apartment to rest our dogs. We were followed soon enough by the shop meister Deb with provisions for dinner of pasta and a hunk of roast beast for me.
AOL still proved to be elusive for the rest of the night despite my, bugboy’s (…and my mother’s help) best efforts to connect.
I will deal with their carcasses later. There will be blood and lots of it with white hot death raining down upon them. Je te le jure…[I swear it to you…] (Ooohhh..don’t I sound medieval!)
total miles walked:approximately 9

PARIS ’99: day 1 Dude, business class ROCKS!

I lucked out on this trip. My mom had frequent flyer miles that were going to expire and she offered them to me. (Tough life, right? Hey, if you are offered good things, accept them gracefully and HAVE FUN!) Aside from the fact that I had enough room to stretch out my legs (short ones though they are) I am simply amazed that I even made it to Paris in the first place.
I had stayed out late on the previous Saturday night and then having the time change, I was a little groggy anyway. In addition to that, several weeks before I mentally had shifted my days 1 forward. Ya know, I thought it was Tuesday when it was Monday…and this had been going on for weeks…so I thought I needed to be at the airport on Tuesday oops.
Luckily, bugboy called me and was doing his last minute panic of “I’ve never been overseas before…am I packing right? What have I forgotten?” and I actually had to look at my tix and notice that I’d better get my butt in gear and finish all my little details. Thanks bugboy! So I actually made it to the plane on time and on the right day. Sheesh.
But, back to the aforementioned business class…oh, heavenly chair.
Feet rests. Seats lean waaaayyyy back. Seat wide enough for fat fredlet fanny…and lots of toys to futz with…no map, alas. (must just be for the plebeians, let them eat cake and all that jazz…) No big deal though. I had enough to distract me.
“Ms. Fredlet?” (huh huh uhhuh huhuh…she called me Ms.) “Would you like some champagne before we take off?”
Why yes. Yes, I would.
Take off was uneventful, so shall it remain. However we did fly out over San Francisco proper (Hey, there’s Lorraine’s house! Hi Twinnie!) It really is a gorgeous city…saw the breakers on Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park and the GG Bridge heading off into the wilds of the North Coast. Then poofy white clouds obscured the view as we head over the east bay…Sigh.
Lunch was smoked salmon with a silly little salad followed by veal and veggies. Total protein kick for me (which is good) and while I was full, I just couldn’t pass up a few small bites of the cheesecake for dessert. Oh my.
I was pretty comatose after dinner and I’d seen both movies on the flight so I decided to go to lay back and be alone with my thoughts.
And did you know that the seats in business class are psychic?

“Oh fredlet, you want to lean back more than that…”
I do? Oh, you are so completely right…
” And fredlet, my pet, your little feet need to be raised.”
Ahhh, I see the wisdom in your words, my friend.
” Let me just turn on this lumbar massage here as well…”
nnnnggguuuuuhhhhhh….. (eyes roll back into my head)

Get the picture?
Now if I can just find a man with all these qualities, I’ll be set. Hah.
I spent the first 2-3 hours of the flight asleep, but the second movie rolled around and I was awake again. I tried to go back to sleep, but it just wasn’t going to happen so I read my book and daydreamed the remaining 6 hours of the flight.
Breakfast had bell peppers (NOT listed on the menu thankyouverymuch-feh) and we landed soon after they finished up the service.
Collected my luggage, flirted with a band that had a gig on Thursday night in town and gave suggestions of things to do for a chick who’d never been to Paris before.
Bugboy was set to arrive from Austin about a 1/2 hours after me, but at a different terminal. So I caught the navette [shuttle] to Aerogare 2. His flight was a little late, but in the grand scheme of things, it meant nothing and I didn’t mind hanging out people watching. Collected the Bugboy and tromped off the the RER.
They’ve done quite a bit of construction since the last several times I’ve been to Paris. So, I’m thinking Bugboy must not have been too impressed with my tour guidance getting us in to Paris. Yet, get into Paris we did.
My lack of brains continued to bite me in the form of me not having the exact address on the fax (just the name of the hotel and the fax number..no phone number though) that I was using to get us in to the hotel since Deb, under whose name the room was registered, wasn’t set to arrive until after we did. I had the name of the hotel and the general area where it was, but I was tired and needed a shower to restore my human status, so I didn’t feel like just walking around looking for the hotel with Bugboy and our luggage in tow.
I took a chance at the École Militaire métro stop and walked into the nearest store and asked if they could look it up in their Pages Jaunes [yellow pages]. Well, after a bit of nudging, the finally located the hotel and it was about 3 blocks away. Works for me.
Installed ourselves in the room. Restored human status with showers and Deb arrived. That was a happy thing. We originally had planned to meet up that night at 7 at the Place Saint Michel for sandwiches grecs [gyros] and having woken up with a sore throat monday morning, I was feeling the effects of not having been able to sleep on the flight, which is my normal cure for any sort of jetlag. I haven’t ever really had jetlag before and it kicked my hiney this time.
Anyhoo, we tromped around the 15th arrondissement until we found a wee tabac and had sandwiches au jambon et beurre [ham sammiches with butter] and Deb had ravioli followed close on its heels by a café liégois [coffee sundae]. The waiter was really fun. French waiters are usually the devil’s lapdog, but this one was lots of fun and sweet! Spoke french when we spoke french. Spoke english when we spoke english. Spoke italian when we spoke italian (he started saying italian things when Deb ordered the ravioli…) Lots of fun!
I managed to make it to the general vicinity of the bed when we got back before going comatose, but Deb (oh she of the iron will) went out for a walk…it was about 8:45 or 9 ish at night. I woke up when she got back, blearily inquired as to her well being and probably passed out again before she answered.
Apparently though, I was not meant to sleep through the night as I was woken up every few hours…oh well. C’est la vie.

total miles walked:approximately 2