The first time I started this book, I couldn’t get into it. Second time, I got into it and had a hard time putting it down. The book bounces between 2 timelines – 1950’s and the early study of DNA, and 1980s when a couple is trying to figure out why a very promising young geneticist dropped off the map (in the ‘50’s) and ended up (in the ‘80’s) doing grunt work at a data processing facility. This book is pretty dense and includes (sometimes very detailed) references to everything from music to genetics to art. (The title refers to Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Poe’s short story, The Gold Bug.) Not a lot actually happens in the book, but it’s incredibly clever and well-written. I’ve bought several of his other books to see if I like them as much.
7/06 update: Just read Plowing the Dark – and it’s not nearly as good as Gold Bug. Two different stories going on again but they don’t tie together well, and the writing seemed pretentious.