Monday, February 24, 2014

It's so Google.

Book: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Published 2013 (Knopf)
Pages: 491
It’s Google, guys. Two seconds into the description of the unbelievable campus our young lost post-grad finds herself on after gritting her pride and taking a friend up on a job offer, the Circle is totally Google: an impossibly cool place where everyone wants to work and help them take over the world through full technological integration.
The story is straightforward – after an initial stage of skepticism, the girl gets fully caught up in the company’s work/life balance/fusion/obsession of transparency. She meets an intriguing dude whom she can’t find on any of the usual channels (and there are a scary number of them) and he tries to enlist her help in an internal takedown but this is, for once a relatively new book, so I’ll be dusting off my “no spoilers” clause and stopping here.
And anyway, the real star is the elaborate way this company’s innovations unfold in cushy language of common sense and well-being that might get even hard-core distopians to pause and say, “Well, those controls really ARE intuitive…”
Okay, fine, spoiler alert – there aren’t any giant battles or anything, but the satire is deadpan enough to show both how this stuff is chipping away at privacy in great chunks and to make some of it sound like actual good ideas.
I’m not entirely sure why I enjoyed this book so much. The protagonist is sort of flat, which might be kind of the point since it makes it easier to mold her into what the company wants from her, but she’s not interesting to read about especially, but it also makes her a reliable everyperson to reveal this world as it unfolds for her, but – and this is the kind of back-and-forth the whole book gave me. The satire is blunt and revealing but not actually funny but mimics real corporate speak so well that I honestly have no idea if any of these projects are made up for exaggeration or if Eggers is really good/sneaking about research. The plot, as mentioned, is really simple when you boil it down.
But somehow I sped through this. The combination is greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t know how that happens; I can guarantee you Eggers nor Stephen King nor my published-but-not-famous writing friends can tell you why, either. You put in what you can and hope it whips itself into something compelling, and there you go.
Back to the library for this one. My main reading project is yes of course geez I’m GETTING TO IT still getting through my original second batch of bought/volunteer houred books, but this is part of a secondary project in which I was bored one day so I went through the New Releases posts on my library’s website and came up with a list of 200 books I want to eventually read and check out, and since I designated this past weekend as Do What I Want Because I’m Awesome weekend, and since I ran into a bit of a brick wall with the massive one-volume collection of World War I novels I took from my bookstore pile, I ended up checking out four library books on my way out the door Friday. Yeah. You’ll hear all about those, too. I promise.
AND BEHOLD THE VICTORY CAKE I baked Saturday for after my BOOK SIGNING (it was anthology so we were all passing each other's around) (that is TWO LAYERS, motherfuckers):

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