Diligent readers of Sentence of Dave know that I believe that Neal Stephenson is one of the greatest writers of our time -- he combines the best qualities of Thomas Pynchon and William Gibson -- and so it is with much regret that I report that I am quitting his gigantic philosophical novel Anathem . . . perhaps this is a case of what Thoreau said: "It is not all books that are as dull as their readers," as I have certainly become more dull of wit in the past year, because my life has become extraordinarily busy, but whatever the reason, I have been stuck in the forty percent zone on my Kindle for weeks (and I even took out the analog version from the library to see if that was the problem) but it looks like I'm never going to finish this incredibly speculative and meta-physical novel, and so I started something more concrete-- The Looming Tower-- and I was able to read forty pages before I fell asleep (a great contrast to Anathem . . . I couldn't get through two pages before nodding off) and Lawrence Wright's book on the origins of Al-Qaeda and 9/11 is well written and full of great research, including this quotation from essayist E.B. White, who was trying to get a grip on the dawn of the nuclear age . . . before we learned to stop worrying and love the bomb: "In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm."