Cobweb

3.59 avg rating
( 2,412 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780099478850: Cobweb

The Gulf War is imminent and there's something mighty strange going on in the Agriculture Department of East Iowa University. When an Arab student turns up drunk - and dead - in the lake, redneck Deputy County Sheriff Clyde Banks gets a feeling he's on to something big. It's a suspicion shared by low-ranking CIA agent Betsy Vandeventer. But before two great minds yell conspiracy theory, in steps top US policy-maker James Millikan. Here's a man well used to dictating the Middle East's future - from a comfortable seat at a top Paris restaurant. While shenanigans in the Midwest might not be exactly his style, there's a technique that serves America well in all matters of national security. It's called the 'Cobweb', and it backfires every time...

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Neal Stephenson is the author of The Baroque Trilogy (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System Of The World). His other books include Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Zodiac, as well as Cobweb and Interface, written in collaboration with Frederick George. He lives in Seattle.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

one

MARCH 1990

CLYDE BANKS was standing in line, in the early stages of hypothermia, when he first saw his future wife, Desiree Dhont, wrestle. At the time, both of them were juniors at Wapsipinicon High School. Its Wade Olin gym, home of the Little Twisters, was named after the greatest wrestler in the history of the world--an alumnus. It was connected to the high school proper by a glass-walled breezeway, which enabled students to pass back and forth between academics and PE, even in the middle of winter, without getting lost in whiteouts.

On the night in question the Little Twisters were about to play a basketball game against their archrivals from just across the river: the Nishnabotna Injuns. The ticket line filled the breezeway and extended into the parking lot. The early arrivals' breath condensed on the insides of the glass walls, which became steamy in the middle and frosty around the edges. The steel framework of the breezeway was growing leaves of frost.

Clyde Banks was on the outside and Desiree Dhont was on the inside, which was typical of their lives at that point. He did not mind the cold, because this arrangement enabled him to stand and stare through the frosty windows at Desiree without her being aware of it.

Clyde was a quiet sort who spent a lot of time thinking about things. During this period he primarily thought about Desiree. He had not spent much time outside the upper Midwest and so had not graduated to more cosmic and general issues--for example, whether it was advisable to live in a part of the country so inimical to life that buildings only a few dozen feet apart had to be connected by expensive glass tunnels.

Clyde was not the only young man staring at Desiree, but he did have a more highly developed contemplative faculty than most of the others, and so he had come up with a rationalization for why Desiree and he were a natural match for each other: neither one of them was technically from Wapsipinicon. Clyde lived on the other side of the river, just outside Nishnabotna, and should have been going to the county high school, but his grandfather and guardian, Ebenezer, who had a thing about education, wouldn't hear of this and dug up a wad of money from one of his hundreds of tiny, secret, widely dispersed bank accounts, or perhaps just dug up some gold coins from one of his many secret, widely dispersed coffee cans, and actually paid tuition to send Clyde to school in Wapsipinicon.

Desiree's family lived several miles south of town, on a farm. The farm lay adjacent to a spur on the Denver-Platte-Des Moines Railway. This particular spur ran up into the middle of the Eastern Iowa University campus, taking coal to the university power plant. When Dan Dhont, Jr., the oldest Dhont boy, had reached junior high school, the Wapsipinicon City Council had voted to annex the first few miles of the railway spur. The Wapsipinicon town line now sported a long, needle-thin, Aleutian-like isthmus running straight out to the Dhont farm. Accordingly, Dan Dhont and all the other Dhonts matriculated and, more to the point, wrestled in Wapsipinicon.

So there was sort of a connection between Clyde and Desiree from the very beginning, or so Clyde had, by dint of lengthy contemplation, led himself to believe. He had not yet figured out a way to parlay this uncanny link into an actual conversation with the girl, but he was working on it. He had run through a number of options in his head, but all of them required ten or fifteen minutes of preliminary explanation, and he did not think this was the best way to get started.

Equally absorbed in the charms of Desiree Dhont was a Nishnabotna boy standing just behind her in line. Naturally, he was traveling with a whole group of other Nishnabotna boys. Just as naturally they egged him on, shouldering him forward playfully until he was almost rubbing up against her. After all, what was a Wapsipinicon/Nishnabotna athletic event without a few incidents of assault, battery, rape, and even attempted murder, perpetrated by Injuns against Little Twisters?

Finally the boy from Nishnabotna made the stupid but (to Clyde) wholly understandable mistake of reaching out and grabbing Desiree Dhont's left buttock.

Not in his worst nightmares did this boy imagine that Desiree might be in any way related to the Dhonts. There was no family resemblance. After bearing five consecutive male children, Mrs. Dhont had concluded, contrary to medical opinion, that she was biologically incapable of having little girls, so she and Dan, Sr., had gone out and adopted Desiree from somewhere. Then she had vindicated her decision, and flummoxed the doctors, by having another three boys.

Unlike the biological Dhonts, Desiree tanned. She tanned marvelously and perfectly. Her dark eyes were set at an outlandish and seductive angle, and her thick, glossy hair was perfectly black. So the boy from Nishnabotna could not have known he was in danger; this alluring creature was cut off from her natural ethnic group, whatever that might be, and he could have his way with her.

Everyone has a role in the cosmic story, no matter how small, dangerous, or humiliating. The roles picked out for boys from Nishnabotna tended to fit all three descriptions. This one's was to answer a question that had confounded the wisest gossips and blowhards of Wapsipinicon for at least a decade, to wit: Could Desiree Dhont wrestle?

Everyone knew that the living room of the Dhont house had a wrestling mat instead of a carpet. Everyone knew that there was another mat on the basement floor. The Des Moines Register had printed an aerial photo of the farmstead showing their outdoor mat in the side yard, next to a home-built weight-training set under the shade of the windbreak. Everyone knew that the Dhont boys learned how to wrestle before they learned how to walk, and that Darius Dhont, upon bursting from his mother's womb after forty-eight hours of furious labor, had gripped a nurse's lower lip in an illegal hold, his long newborn's fingernails darting four tiny crescent-shaped cuts into her mucous membranes before Dan, Sr., had spanked him loose, one, two, three, like a ref slapping a mat.

Smart money said no. The whole idea behind having Desiree was that Mrs. Dhont would have a more feminine presence around the house. Why go to all that trouble to import X chromosomes from Timbuktu and then have her rolling around the living room in bib overalls, body-slamming her muscular brothers? So Desiree had been raised to be markedly feminine in more than just her name. Clyde had attended the same junior high school as Desiree, and he could still remember sitting behind her in algebra, tracing the construction of her French braids--straight dark hair pulled in on itself, stretched to explosive tension like the strings of a piano--and getting woozy over the lace that draped around her tanned neck like a ring of Ivory soapsuds.

The mystery had deepened when they had matriculated at Wapsipinicon High School. In order to justify the expense of the indoor swimming facility, all students had to take swimming classes. The girls changed into stunning black spandex one-pieces, and all the boys were stripped down to black spandex trunks that didn't conceal things any more effectively than their own supply of pubic hair. They needed no encouragement to get into the water.

The girls' suits were cut deep in the back, and everyone knew that a fella could grasp the straps from behind and pull them apart and down and strip a girl naked to the waist like shucking an ear of corn. So all the girls pulled the laces out of their gym shoes and used them to tie the straps together between their shoulder blades. Clyde spent at least a night a week fantasizing about this unbearably erotic rite: all the girls in the locker room binding each other's straps together with dingy gray shoelaces, pulling those granny knots tight, locking their breasts away so that only the greenish water of the pool could touch them. It made the suits visually narrower, as seen from behind, which made the girls' shoulders look broader than they were.

Desiree Dhont was thus given away by her deltoids. By the end of her first swimming class everyone knew that Desiree had indeed been full-nelsoning her siblings since she had been in the cradle. They were not at all masculine, not unbecoming at all, and underneath them her armpits were as sheer and smooth as the backs of her knees. But unmistakably they were powerful and developed, death-dealing Dhont deltoids, fairer and sexier than any breast or buttock.

And on the night in question they were concealed beneath Desiree's fluffy down-filled ski jacket. The boy from Nishnabotna knew nothing of the deltoids. He only knew that Desiree was a relatively tall girl; but he was even taller, and he was a boy, and he was with his friends, tough Nishnabotna boys who worked throwing hay bales and pig corpses. He was safe. He reached out and grabbed her ass.
He blinked as Desiree's long black braid snapped across his face, whipped around by tremendous centrifugal force.

She was in violent motion; his hand was empty before the pleasing sensation had even traveled up his arm to his brain.

A moment later she was behind him and his arm had been wrenched up behind his back, bent like a hairpin. Desiree shoved him face first across the breezeway and gave his arm a final twist. He opened his mouth to holler.

The sound was muffled by a chunk of steel window frame that went directly against his tongue. The frame was not insulated. It was January. Desiree let him go but the window frame didn't. His tongue, and about fifty percent of his lips' surface area, remained flash-frozen in place, as if the window frame had been coated with Krazy Glue.

Her girlfriend held her place in line. Desiree returned, hitching her jeans back around.

"My name's Desiree," she said. Desiree had been in this country since the age of five weeks, but Clyde still imagined she spoke with a haughty crisp accent like the models in the Sports Illustrat...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 17.25
US$ 9.81

Convert Currency

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
Published by Cornerstone, United Kingdom (2006)
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Gulf War is imminent and there s something mighty strange going on in the Agriculture Department of East Iowa University. When an Arab student turns up drunk - and dead - in the lake, redneck Deputy County Sheriff Clyde Banks gets a feeling he s on to something big. It s a suspicion shared by low-ranking CIA agent Betsy Vandeventer. But before two great minds yell conspiracy theory, in steps top US policy-maker James Millikan. Here s a man well used to dictating the Middle East s future - from a comfortable seat at a top Paris restaurant. While shenanigans in the Midwest might not be exactly his style, there s a technique that serves America well in all matters of national security. It s called the Cobweb , and it backfires every time. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099478850

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 9.81
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
Published by Cornerstone, United Kingdom (2006)
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Gulf War is imminent and there s something mighty strange going on in the Agriculture Department of East Iowa University. When an Arab student turns up drunk - and dead - in the lake, redneck Deputy County Sheriff Clyde Banks gets a feeling he s on to something big. It s a suspicion shared by low-ranking CIA agent Betsy Vandeventer. But before two great minds yell conspiracy theory, in steps top US policy-maker James Millikan. Here s a man well used to dictating the Middle East s future - from a comfortable seat at a top Paris restaurant. While shenanigans in the Midwest might not be exactly his style, there s a technique that serves America well in all matters of national security. It s called the Cobweb , and it backfires every time. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099478850

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 9.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Quantity Available: 5
Seller
GreatBookPrices
(Columbia, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 3743976-n

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 7.24
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 2.64
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800994788500000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.33
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Grand Eagle Retail
(Wilmington, DE, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 129mm x 198mm x 24mm. Paperback. The Gulf War is imminent and there's something mighty strange going on in the Agriculture Department of East Iowa University. When an Arab student turns up drunk - and dead - in the lake, .Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 400 pages. 0.288. Bookseller Inventory # 9780099478850

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 11.27
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
Published by Cornerstone (2006)
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Softcover Quantity Available: 5
Rating
[?]

Book Description Cornerstone, 2006. Book Condition: New. When an Arab student turns up drunk, and dead, in the lake in the East Iowa University, redneck Deputy County Sheriff Clyde Banks gets a feeling he's on to something big. It's a suspicion shared by low-ranking CIA agent Betsy Vandeventer. But before two great minds yell conspiracy theory, in steps top US policy-maker James Millikan. Num Pages: 400 pages, maps. BIC Classification: FH; FJ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 130 x 25. Weight in Grams: 286. . 2006. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099478850

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.90
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Ria Christie Collections
(Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Not Signed; The Gulf War is imminent and there's something mighty strange going on in the Agriculture Department of East Iowa University. When an Arab student turns up drunk - and dead - in the lake, redneck Deputy County Sheriff Clyde Banks gets a feeling he's on to something big. It's a suspicion shared by lo. book. Bookseller Inventory # ria9780099478850_rkm

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 9.10
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.02
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
Published by Cornerstone
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Softcover Quantity Available: 5
Seller
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Cornerstone. Book Condition: New. When an Arab student turns up drunk, and dead, in the lake in the East Iowa University, redneck Deputy County Sheriff Clyde Banks gets a feeling he's on to something big. It's a suspicion shared by low-ranking CIA agent Betsy Vandeventer. But before two great minds yell conspiracy theory, in steps top US policy-maker James Millikan. Num Pages: 400 pages, maps. BIC Classification: FH; FJ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 130 x 25. Weight in Grams: 286. . 2006. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099478850

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.30
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
Published by Arrow (2006)
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Green Books
(Wicklow, Ireland)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Arrow, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand New Book. Shipping: Once your order has been confirmed and payment received, your order will then be processed. The book will be located by our staff, packaged and despatched to you as quickly as possible. From time to time, items get mislaid en route. If your item fails to arrive, please contact us first. We will endeavour to trace the item for you and where necessary, replace or refund the item. Please do not leave negative feedback without contacting us first. All orders will be dispatched within two working days. If you have any quesions please contact us. Bookseller Inventory # V9780099478850

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.69
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 5.31
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Stephenson, Neal; George, Frederick
ISBN 10: 0099478854 ISBN 13: 9780099478850
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0099478854. Bookseller Inventory # ST0099478854

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.22
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book