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Blargh [book: The Circle]

So, my mom read The Circle (Dave Eggers) recently for her book club, and then left her copy of the book lying around the house. When I was in town, she asked if I'd like it, after multiple people had glanced at it and generally agreed, "Yeah...disturbing." I shrugged and brought it back to Texas with me.

Now that I think about it, I recall feeling ambivalent after finishing A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, too. I appreciate a lot of what Eggers does for the literary world, but his writing grates.

The book managed to be sufficiently gripping that I stayed up past my bedtime reading it last night, but I would say, in a heartbeat, just go read 1984 instead and be done with it.

The biggest thought I take away from The Circle is, what's involved in trying to construct a successful novel where the protagonist isn't likeable?

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( 11 remarks — Remark )
annikusrex
Dec. 18th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
somehow with this pan you've managed to intrigue me!
rebeccmeister
Dec. 18th, 2014 03:46 am (UTC)
Hmm....would you like me to ship the book to you? It's a fast read, at least.
rebeccmeister
Dec. 18th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
Well, mwa ha ha, the book's in the mail!
manintheboat
Dec. 18th, 2014 05:56 am (UTC)
I loved the portrayal of the smartwatches and can't wait until we get there.

But yes, it's a modern 1984.
rebeccmeister
Dec. 18th, 2014 08:05 pm (UTC)
You're referring to the ones that could track a person's vital signs? I could see value in those. But I'm also still the sort of person who gets peevish when a person constantly pays more attention to his or her electronic gadget than the world around him/her or conversations.
thewronghands
Dec. 19th, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
I felt like it was more of a becoming-style novel there... in 1984, the dystopia is already present and oppressive. It's won, and the novel is about how it crushes the individual to maintain its stasis. Here, we see it being created. It's got some footholds, but through the course of the novel it digs in much deeper, particularly in the psyche of the thoroughly unlikable protagonist. So I kind of want to have the book to throw at my friends who have never really considered the privacy ramifications of software + panopticon + ratting out your friends, but I think they'll just briefly feel uncomfortable and then forget about it. :/ And, sadly, I think that's majority-view.
rebeccmeister
Dec. 19th, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)
Well now, that is true (regarding it being a "becoming-style" novel).

But I think your frustration over what to do with the book sort of highlights what's obnoxious about it to me. I read an essay not too long ago about the concept of "obscurity" on the internet, and that essay seemed to resonate better in terms of thinking and working through the issue. Plus, the people who are unlikely to have considered the privacy ramifications might be ones who are disinclined to read a novel like The Circle and somewhat more likely to read an essay, I suspect...
thewronghands
Dec. 24th, 2014 04:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think that's not even necessarily a property of the book, so much as a frustration with society. I don't know how to get through to people who are entrenched in "well I like this thing so too bad about all the down sides". (I'd call it privilege, but it's hurting them too... I just don't think they care!)

Do you have a link to the article? I saw some discussion of that topic when the European "right to be forgotten" court case was being argued, but I haven't seen one really great treatment of it.
rebeccmeister
Dec. 24th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
I think I'd just read this Atlantic article about it, which may or may not be all that great, heh:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/01/obscurity-a-better-way-to-think-about-your-data-than-privacy/267283/
trifold_flame
Dec. 18th, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC)
I'm reading Etz Chaim (Hebrew Bible) lately, and it's interesting, because none of the characters so far are particularly likable. They're deceptive and violent and selfish (though of course they also have good qualities). I may not find them likable, but I find them extremely human and relateable. To me, this property translates to most stories- does it feel real? I don't need to like the person, but I do need to feel empathy for them.
rebeccmeister
Dec. 18th, 2014 08:04 pm (UTC)
I don't recall the correspondence between the Hebrew Bible and Catholic versions of the "Old Testament," BUT I would agree with your perspective based on my familiarity, too.

I...couldn't quite feel empathy for the main character - the work was intentionally written so she would make repugnant choices. I suppose one could say the same thing of Crime and Punishment, but C&P had a different air about it.
( 11 remarks — Remark )

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