Gravity's Rainbow

botany, shoes, books, and justice

Living with roommates


From Neal Stephenson’s Zodiac:

They shut off our phone service so we all had to sit down and thrash out about three months’ worth of unpaid long-distance bills.  In the middle of a spirited discussion of who had made seven consecutive calls to Santa Cruz at three in the morning, Ike got up and announced that he was moving out.  He was tired of the plumbing problems he said, and the weird messages on the answering machine, and Roscommon had come in while he was at work and torn down the Mel King campaign poster on our front balcony.  That was okay.  Ike was a shitty gardener anyway and he complained when I ran my model trains after bedtime. Tess and Laurie, the lesbian carpenters, announced that they liked the kitchen better after we’d untrashed it and cleaned it up, so why not try to keep it that way?  I pointed out that I had bought three new badminton birdies before I left for Buffalo and now they were all gone.  Should we call this place a “co-op” or a “commune”? How about calling it a “house”? Who had scrubbed the Teflon off the big frying pan?  Since Tess had weeded the garden, how many tomatoes did she get?  Whose hair predominated in the shower drain – the women’s since they had more, or the men’s, since they were losing more?  Was it okay to pour bacon grease down the drains if you ran hot water at the same time? Could bottles with metal rings on the necks be put in the recycling box? Should we buy a cord of firewood? Maple or pine?  Did we agree that the people next door were abusing their children? Physically or just psychologically? Was boric acid roach powder a bioaccumulative toxin?  Where was the bicycle-tire pump, and was it okay to take it on an overnight trip? Whose turn was it to scrub the green crap out from between the tiles in the bathroom?

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  1. An excellent book by a talented wordsmith 🙂

    • The Diamond Age is one of my all time favorite books and the only fiction I’d read before of Stephenson’s. Zodiac was much more lighthearted and fun, even if the subject is horribly depressing. I do love Sangoman Taylor’s character – he makes me feel hopeful about the environmental movement, even if he is made up 🙂

      I’m looking forward to reading Cryptonomicon next – I’ve heard it’s got a very different feel, too, but is also exceptional.

  2. Hooray, I don’t recognise it at all. Time to read it again.

    • I love getting to that point with a good book! I think I’m going to try to read The Diamond Age again this winter. It’s been about 8 years since I read it! I wonder if I’ll love it as much now as I did then?

      • I read it when it came out, so that is more than 20 years. I am cursed with a good memory for plots usually. Cryptonomicon was equally brilliant but all his later books damage my wrists.

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