Tag Archives: dave eggers

Book Review 51: The Circle by Dave Eggers

26 Dec

I desperately wanted to read this for book club, because there are a thousand things I want to discuss after reading this. I think I enjoyed the concepts of privacy and work/life balance raised in this book more than the book itself. The plot can be obvious; the twists are easy to see; the ending is basically written before you finish the book. It is long, and can be preachy at times. But it’s the kind of book that raises interesting questions, and ideas, and fosters fun conversations about the future of the internet. So I think that it’s ultimately worth a read.

Mae Holland goes to work for the Circle, a kind of Google/Facebook hybrid company that seems to control everything internet related. She feels special working there; it’s seen as a hip, desirable place to work and she used to be stuck in a dead in job. And who doesn’t want to feel special?

This book is sort of a “worst case scenario” about the decreased level of privacy in our lives. People are frequently outraged about how their personal information is being “taken” from them – by Facebook, to sell to marketers, and so on and so forth. But I think the more interesting problem is that people are giving up their privacy. They are willingly logging on, documenting their every move, and storing it with a third party. We live so much of our private lives in public now. And no one really questions why they’re giving up their own privacy; the questions seem to surround what the third parties do with that information once it’s out there. Continue reading

#CBR4 Review 03: The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 edited by Dave Eggers

4 Jan

The premise of The Best American Nonrequired Reading is simple. Part of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American series, the anthology includes short works of fiction and nonfiction published in newspapers, magazines and online. Dave Eggers (of McSweeney’s fame) edits the anthology.

I don’t normally read short stories, which translates into…I don’t ever read short stories. It takes me 15-30 pages to get attached to a book, it’s stories, it’s premise, and it’s characters, and by the time I get invested in a short story, it’s over. My Aunt gave this to me, and she’s given me some of my all time favorite books over the years. So I decided to dig in anyway, and it was worth the 12 hours it took to complete the book. Because this was a collection of short stories, I’m going to highlight the three pieces that resonated with me.

Orange” by Neil Gaman, originally published in Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine, is a set of responses to unseen questions. Partially a story of aliens, partially the story of a disturbed young girl, and partially a work of incredible imagination, the tension builds throughout the story despite the fact you never see the questions. It’s hard to explain the appeal, but the pop culture references and blunt descriptions were so descriptive I basically projected an HD quality picture of the story unfolding in my mind. Fascinating.

“A Hole in the Head” by Joyce Carol Oates, originally published in The Kenyon Review. For shame, I’ve never read any Joyce Carol Oates before. This story chronicles the guilt of a plastic surgeon operating in a wealthy suburban area, who ultimately agrees to perform a dangerous, controversial procedure on a patient offering a large pay off, in hopes of saving his destitute practice. The bloody, gruesome details, overarching struggle with morality and the desperation of both the doctor and patient burned themselves into my brain. Classic fairy tales (think Grimm’s, not Disney) are frequently as gory and depressing as this story because children respond best to extreme forms of emotional stimulation. Maybe it’s because I never outgrew the childhood fascination with blood and death, but this story triggered some extremely strong, unsettling emotions.

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