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Authors: Neal Stephenson,J. Frederick George

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Science Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Political, #Political fiction, #Presidents, #Political campaigns, #Election, #Presidents - Election, #Political campaigns - United States


BOOK: Interface
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Created 2003.03.03 by 1010011010





Neal Town Stephenson is the author of
Zodiac, Snow Crash, The
Diamond Age
Born on Halloween in 1959 in Fort
Meade, Maryland - home of the National Security Agency - he
grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Ames, Iowa, before
attending college in Boston. Since 1984 he has lived mostly in the
Pacific Northwest and has made a living out of writing novels and
the occasional magazine article.




Neal Stephenson and
Frederick George



Also by Neal Stephenson




Snow Crash

The Diamond Age













Published in the United Kingdom in 2002 by Arrow Books

1 3
5 7 9
8 6 4 2
Copyright © Stephen Bury 1994

Neal Stephenson and Frederick George have asserted their right under the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the authors of this work.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names and characters are products of

the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or

dead, is entirely coincidental

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall riot, by way of trade or otherwise,

be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in

any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar

condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

First published in the United Kingdom in 2002 by Arrow Books

Arrow Books

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New South Wales 2061, Australia

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Auckland 10, New Zealand

Random House (Pty) Limited
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The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009

A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library

Papers used by Random House

are natural, recyclable products made from wood grown in

sustainable forests. The manufacturing processes conform to

the environmental regulations of the country of origin

ISBN 0 09 942775 3

Typeset by SX Composing DTP, Rayleigh, Essex

Printed and bound in Denmark by

haven Paperback A/S

To Wilbur




The State of the Union





William Anthony Cozzano's office was a scandal.
it was
whispered in the high councils of the Illinois Historical Society. For
over a century, under dozens of governors, it had looked the same. Then Cozzano had come along and moved all the antique furniture into storage (Abraham Lincoln was the greatest man in history,
Cozzano said, but his desk was a piece of junk, and Stephen
Douglas's side chair was no prize either). Cozzano had dared to
into the frescoed vault of the governor's office - a
thirty-six-inch Trinitron with picture-in-picture so that he could
watch C-SPAN and football at the same time! And his chair was no
antique, but a high-tech thing with as many adjustable features as
the human body had bones. He had suffered enough abuse, he claimed, in Vietnam and on the frozen turf of Soldier Field and
didn't deserve to be mangled by some antique chair day in and day
out, Illinois Historical Society be damned. That chair was
everything Cozzano wasn't: fat with padding and glossy with petal-
soft leather where Cozzano was lean and craggy and weathered, a man who had waited his whole life to look the way he did now, as
if carved from a block of white oak with a few quick strokes of an

Cozzano was sitting in the chair one night in January, holding a
fountain pen as big as an uncooked hot dog in his left hand.
Cozzano returned to his home in the small town of Tuscola every
weekend to mow the lawn, rake leaves, or shovel snow, so calluses
made a dry rasping sound as his writing hand slid across the paper.

The fountain pen looked expensive and had been given to him
by someone terribly important a long time ago; Cozzano had
forgotten whom. He late wife, Christina, used to keep track of who had given him what and send out little notes, Christmas cards, and
so on, but since her death, all of these social niceties had gone
straight to hell, and most people forgave him for it. Cozzano found
that the pen's bulk fit his hand nicely, his fingers wrapped around
the barrel without having to pinch it like a cheap ballpoint, and the
ink flowed effortlessly on to the paper, nib scrawling and calluses rasping, as he signed the endless stream of bills, proclamations, resolutions, letters, and commendations that flowed across his desk
like blood cells streaming in single file through the capillaries of the
lung - the stately procession that sustained the life of the body

His office was on the second floor of the east wing, directly
above the capitol's main entrance, overlooking a broad lawn
decorated with a statue of Lincoln delivering his farewell address to
Springfield. The room had only two windows - tall narrow north-
facing ones that were blocked even from the late afternoon sun by the north wing and the soaring capitol dome. Cozzano called it the
"arctic circle" - the only part of Illinois that was in darkness for six
months out of the year. This was a somewhat obscure and technical joke, especially in these days of endemic geographic ignorance, but
people laughed at it anyway because he was the Governor. He kept his desk lamp going all day, but as the sky had darkened and as he
worked into the night, he had not bothered to turn on the over
head fixtures, and he now sat in a pool of illumination in the middle
of the dark office. Around the edges of the room, innumerable
pieces of decoration reflected the light back at him.

Each governor decorated the office in his own way. Only a few things were immutable: the preposterous fresco on the ceiling, the
massive doors with brass lions' heads mounted in their centers. His
predecessor had gone in for a spare, classical nineteenth-century
look, filling the place up with antiques that had belonged to
Lincoln and Douglas. This impressed visitors and looked nice for
the tour groups who came by every hour to launch flashcube
barrages over the velvet rope. Cozzano had banned the tour
groups, slamming the doors in their faces so that all they could see
was the brass lions, and turned the office into a cluttered Cozzano
family museum.

It had started on the day of his first inauguration, with a small
photo of his late wife, Christina, placed on the corner of his
historically inaccurate desk. Naturally, photos of his children, Mary
Catherine and James, came next. But there was no point in
stopping with the immediate family, and so Cozzano had brought
in several boxes containing pictures of patriarchs and matriarchs going back several generations. He wanted pictures of his friends, too, and of their families, and he also needed various pieces of
memorabilia, some of which were chosen for sentimental reasons, some for purely political ones. By the time Cozzano was finished
decorating his office, it was almost filled with clutter, smelling salts
had to be brought in for the Historical Society, and, as he sat down
for the first time in his big leather chair, he could trace the entire genealogy and economic development of the Cozzano clan, and of
twentieth-century Illinois, which amounted to the same thing.

There was an old aerial photograph of Tuscola as seen from its
own water tower in the 1930s. It was a town of a few thousand people, about half an hour south of the academic metropolis of
Champaign-Urbana and a couple of hours south of Chicago. Even
in this photo it was possible to see gaudy vaults in the town
cemetery, and Duesenbergs cruising the streets. Tuscola was, for a
farm town, bizarrely prosperous.

In an oval frame of black walnut was a hand-tinted photograph
of his great-grandfather and namesake Guillermo Cozzano who
had come to Illinois from Genoa in 1897. In typically contrary
Cozzano fashion he had bypassed the large Italian communities on
the East Coast and found work in a coal mine about thirty miles
southwest of Tuscola, where soil and coal were the same color. He and his son Guiseppe had gone into the farming business, snapping
up one of the last available parcels of high-quality land. In 1912,
Guiseppe and his wife had their first child, Giovanni (John)
Cozzano, followed three and five years later by Thomas and Peter.
All of these events were recorded in photographs, which Cozzano
would be more than happy to explain to visitors if they made the
mistake of expressing curiosity, even allowing their eyes to stray in
that direction. Most of the photos featured buildings, babies, or

John Cozzano (photo) lost his mother to influenza at the age of
six and, from that point onward, lived his life as if he had been shot
from a cannon. During his high-school years in the vigorous 1920s he held down a part-time job at the local grain elevator (photo). By
the time economic disaster struck in the 1930s he had worked his way up into the management of that business. With one foot in his
father's farm and the other in the grain elevator, John was able to get the family through the Depression in one piece.

In 1933, John fell in love with Francesca Domenici, a young
Chicago woman. As evidence of his fitness to be a husband, he
decided to buy an enormous stucco Craftsman house on a tree-
lined brick street on the edge of Tuscola (photo). Even by the
standards of Tuscola, which had an inordinate number of large and
magnificent houses, it was a beaut: three stories, six bedrooms, with
a full basement and a garage the size of a barn. All of the woodwork
was black walnut, thick as railroad ties. He was going to buy the
place for five hundred dollars from a railway company man who
had gone bankrupt. At this time, John had only three hundred
dollars in the bank, and so he was forced to borrow the remaining
two hundred.

This quest eventually led him to Chicago, and to the doorstep of
Sam Meyer (photo), formerly Shmuel Meierowitz. Sam Meyer
operated a number of coexisting businesses out of a single storefront
on Maxwell Street, on Chicago's near west side (photo). One thing
he did was lend money. Sam's son was named David; he was a

Every Italian person John Cozzano had ever spoken to for more
than about ten minutes had spontaneously warned him of the
danger of borrowing money from Jews. He had accepted these
warnings at face value until he overheard Anglo-Saxons in Tuscola
warning each other, in exactly the same terms, of the dangers of
borrowing money from Italians. John borrowed the money and
bought the house. As soon as he had cleaned all the junk out of the
basement and taken care of a dire flea infestation, he went back up
to Chicago and proposed to Francesca.

He bought a ring from Sam Meyer on credit and they were
married in Chicago in June 1934. After a short honeymoon at the
Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (photo), they moved into the big
house in Tuscola. Within eleven months, John had repaid all of his
debts to Sam Meyer, and he discovered that, contrary to legend, it
was possible to carry on a financial transaction with a Jew without
forfeiting your shirt, or your immortal soul.

BOOK: Interface
3.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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