The notion of a publisher as source of illicit or illicitly-bought drugs seems to have figured in the book’s first day of sales.
One chapter—The Nanny Book—focuses on combining Mad and Becket to make Les Bons Dieux, with the numeral 9 distilled into a green tea-like beverage. The credo that much of the novel is based upon may be drawn from I Am Not A Psychopath (right), in which a man loses his focus when his grandfather is diagnosed with schizophrenia and killed by his own family.
There are also references to some of Stephenson’s own pets, such as Belgian broodback crossbreeds and his tattooed female armadillo.
Stephenson has said Mad, Mad, Mad World is his most “anti-YA” novel; technically correct, yet by day-one it’s proving to be the only book in which he feels comfortable admitting his actual age. He is 72.
When Stephen is young enough to read Charles Bukowski, Adrian Mole and Ian Fleming: A Life, he makes a habit of returning for a weekend to Holden Caulfield’s writing room for a sort of What I Learned From Literature lesson. Now he seeks out advice on how to write the first chapter of the novel while under a deadline. His publisher, he learns, doesn’t allow anyone to skip more than two chapters a week.
Stephenson is often cited for his non-conformist, anti-establishment stance and his tendency to make bad habits seem intriguing. But Stephen’s lead antagonist appears to be deliriously incapable of sitting still. It is his habit of overindulging in bookmarks that supposedly creates an even larger problem, and the writer writes of how “he would cop an early 6 a.m. workout before work and the movies; if he had to wait until the end of the movie to eat, that was fine for him, as long as he ate bananas and biscuits… This might be a shortcoming on the part of the writer, but it is not an affliction.”