William Gibson just finished his new novel (coming out later this year) called Zero History. And now he's come out of novel-writing mode to chat on his blog and Twitter to answer questions about everything from Belgians to branding.
One of the most interesting Q/A exchanges Gibson had was with a person who asked about his attention to detail when it comes to brands and ephemeral items like clothing. Here's the full exchange:
Q Why do you seem obsessed with brand name apparel et al in Pattern Recognition and Spook Country?
A You ain't seen nothing, yet! Actually the new one may explain that, a bit. Or just further convince some people that I'm obsessed. It's one of the ways in which I feel I understand how the world works, and there aren't really that many of those. It's not about clothes, though, or branding; it's about code, subtext. I was really delighted, for instance, to learn who made George Bush's raincoats. A company in Little Rock (now extinct, alas) but they were made of Ventile, a British cotton so tightly woven that you can make fire hoses (and RAF ocean survival suits) out of it. Which exists because Churchill demanded it, because the Germans had all the flax production sewn up. No flax, no fire hoses for the Blitz. The cultural complexities that put that particular material on Bush's back delight me deeply; it's a kind of secret history (and not least because most people would find it fantastically boring, I imagine).