Book - The Circle

The Circle

Nate McKenzie gets into an endless loop with The Circle by Dave Eggers...

You know how you're super excited when you get a new job? You have so much to learn and it's time consuming and laborious, yet, it feels so great at the same time? New people, new faces, new information; all so visceral.

Well, imagine how you feel when it's someone else going through that and they want to tell you every fucking tiny insipid bit of minutiae and you're trying desperately to stay engaged in the conversations but this person is a soul-draining bore and isn't even really someone you like all that much so it's even harder to care.

That's The Circle.

At this point, I have a confession to make.

I only read the first ninety-seven pages.

That's the problem then isn't it? I could not get through 1/5 of the book before I gave up. If you can't grasp my attention even partially in the first 100 pages then you're doing something wrong. I am easily amused. I still love cartoons (being a parent of an 8 year old notwithstanding). It does not take a great deal for me to become ensconced in the narrative of a story and fall for the characters within.

But that is my point; there are far too many entertaining books in the world to waste my time with one that is the literary experience of sitting through a viewing of your neighbors vacation photo slides.

Here's a quick synopsis of what I encountered:

Mae is a bright twenty-something woman who gets a job at a big Google-esque tech company through the help of her former college roommate, who now is one of the 'Gang of 40' - the higher-ups in the company with the most influence.

Day One Mae finds herself bombarded by new technology that is still unavailable to the public and floods of information required for her to complete her new job as a Customer Experience Rep.

This introduction to her new position, from a readers standpoint, should conceivably take no more than ten pages. At most.

Yet, the reason I stopped reading on page 97 is because Mae was still being introduced to her new position, and all of the requirements and technology (apps and all) on page 97. The redundancy of that last sentence was intentional. I couldn't fucking take it anymore! I had already been scanning paragraphs and skipping entire pages for the last 5 minutes of reading.

Out of morbid curiosity, I flipped to a random page: 236. Want to take a wild guess as to what Mae was doing?

The same damn thing she was doing on page 97. Mere coincidence or lack of story progression? I don't care to find out. Whatever the hell happens to Mae between page 97 and page 236 will forever remain in the darkest annals of a Robert Stack narration.

[As an aside - I'm now convinced that my tombstone inscription will simply read: "Page 97"]

Let me say that I do understand where the book was leading. "Ahh! The horrors and evils of technology and synergy and connectivity and world domination are at hand! REPENT! REPENT!"

However, the book felt like a bad audition tape sent in by Eggers to the tech giants in Silicon Valley, as he hoped desperately to land a job as a developer. "Hey guys! Look! I have great ideas for apps and social networking and stuff, too! It's all here in this book that someone accidentally published without reading!"

Ok, that was harsh. I'll be nicer.

Dave Eggers is not a bad writer.

He just so unabashadly worships Aldous Huxley that his thinly veiled desire to impress himself upon the modern world as prophet and seer is as sad as the last drunk girl at a bar trying to get anyone to take her home with them. (wait... that was pretty harsh, too, wasn't it?)

Unfortunately, he has been lauded by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and even The Guardian, so my insignificant opinion means nothing against those institutions of scholar and review.

I am personally very leery of Big Tech and Silicon Valley and their tie-ins with world governments. I understand the fear of losing privacy (which I assume is where this book was headed) and having no hope for anonymity in the advancing world.

I respect Eggers vision and his dedication; I just don't respect what culminated from the marriage of the two.

Ready Player One is one of the most entertaining books about dystopia and the deification of technology that I have ever read. And Dave Eggers has vastly superior writing ability to Ernest Cline. What made Ready Player One work was that Cline, as authors are wont to do, wanted, first and foremost, to entertain the reader.

That is the one thing for which Eggers failed to have a vision.

Image - Amazon