New from Dave Eggers, National Book Award finalist A Hologram for the King. In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter's college tuition, and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers takes us ...
New from Dave Eggers, National Book Award finalist A Hologram for the King. In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter's college tuition, and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers takes us around the world to show how one man fights to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy's gale-force winds. This taut, richly layered, and elegiac novel is a powerful evocation of our contemporary moment - and a moving story of how we got here. Praise for A Hologram for the King: "Absorbing ...modest and equally satisfying: the writing of a comic but deeply affecting tale about one man's travails that also provides a bright, digital snapshot of our times". (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). "A fascinating novel". (New Yorker). "A spare but moving elegy for the American century". (Publishers Weekly). "Eggers understands the pressures of American downward-mobility, and in the protagonist of his novel, Alan Clay, has created an Everyman, a post-modern Willy Loman...The novel operates on a grand and global scale, but it also is intimate". (Chicago Tribune). "Completely engrossing". (Fortune). "Eggers can do fiction as well as he likes". (Los Angeles Times). Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, How We Are Hungry, You Shall Know Our Velocity, What is the What, The Wild Things and Zeitoun. Zeitoun was the winner of the American Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and What is the What was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and won France's Prix Medicis. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco. A native of Chicago, he lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.
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This is a two-star novel with a five-star cover. The dull-gold, deeply-embossed cover with its somewhat steam-punk-like pattern, makes the book a pleasure to carry around. It?s a pity that the novel doesn?t live up to the cover.
Eggers presents a reasonably moving depiction of Alan, a middle-aged man who has been seriously harmed, financially and emotionally, by globalization and off-shoring. He grew up in an America, as so many of us did, in which Americans made most of the best products in the world, earned a good living doing so, and bought and used these products with a feeling of pride, or at least security. His father worked for Stride-Rite, and Alan worked for Fuller Brush and then Schwinn. But now it?s all over. Everything?s made in China and the jobs have left America for other shores.
Alan not only owes money to everyone, but also feels that he has no ground under his feet any more. He travels to Saudi Arabia to try to help sell a holographic teleconferencing system to a new Economic City, but Alan?s not an IT expert, and the people he needs to deal with never seem to be around. Two different women would like to have sex with him, but he?s just not interested (this is a very heavy-handed metaphor for his general impotence in the face of modern economic change). He just drifts around brooding.
I am not the kind of reader who feels that a novel has to be full of action. Novels can be mostly thoughts. But this novel leaves the reader depressed and restless. It has no concentration, but jumps around pointlessly. Eggers skips spaces between paragraphs on almost every page, as if he just can?t think about anything
for very long. This, plus his refusal to use quotation marks, leaves the reader feeling that Eggers is more interested in showing off how cool he is than really trying to buckle down and work.
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