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A Hologram for the King

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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 ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of A Hologram for the King

Overall customer rating: 2.000
Arabella

great cover, sloppy book

by Arabella on Sep 15, 2012

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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