I’ve never been to California in my life. I’ve never even been to the West Coast. I kind of have this image in my head that everybody is either Guy Fieri or Mark Zuckerberg with surfboards in cosplay, which intellectually I know isn’t accurate, but I still have a hard time picturing the San Francisco area otherwise. Similarly, the corporate pieces of the story totally matches with the general idea of what your typical tech San Francisco start-up must be like ( I say that in the general cultural perception sense; I’m not a techy so I have no idea how realistic the office setting actually is), and I think again this is part of the author’s genius. Everything is real, a little stereotypical but individual, and always entertaining but with some real feeling and thoughtfulness. After reading Sourdough, I wanna go to San Francisco, visit farmers markets and eat sour dough bread. I might even have to find a restaurant that foodwise matches Chaiman and Beoreg’s. Maybe do a little Mythbusters touring, and don’t they have a zoo there too?
I really liked this book; it’s a fun story, it’s nicely written, but it’s just too short. There are so many places where just a little more detail would have made things even better. I get that too much information about something can ruin it; I admit I googled ‘Mazg’ to see if it was real and found a review of the audiobook with just enough info for explaining that. A lot of information on that idea or culture would have ruined the mystique and Beo’s emails since even he had a hard time explaining to Louis what that means. As much as I loved those parts of the book and would have loved to see more, I do think that that’s another place where too much would have ruined the effect. But it would have been fun to see more of or about Charlotte and Lily, or at least more of the local Louis Club.
I now feel the need to re-read Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore reference, but Robin Sloan is great with creating narrators with some real character but who are also very familiar types of people. It’s the same with the plot. It’s real enough to be plausible, even with the strange quasi-supernatural but kind of explainable by science things that happen at the end. That’s another place in this novel that could use some more development. It me a little while to grasp what was going on; it could have been explained and narrated with a little more detail for me. There’s plenty of information on how creating sourdough and starter actually works but with enough fun probably fantastical (that’s another key here; I can’t tell how much of this is real and how much fantasy, and that’s part of the fun) bits tossed in to keep things fun; if I want a textbook on the science of bread, I’ll get one. Seriously, that is something I would do.
I also really like the mystery; it’s interesting and not obvious, but still makes total sense in the end. I admit I find the role Charlotte ends up playing the finale a little bit lame, but it does work in terms of story and character. Really the biggest problem is that now I have to wait who knows how long for the next book. Maybe there might be a tv or movie adaptation or either Mr. Penumbra or Sourdough while we wait. I would totally watch that.