Book review : “The Circle” by Dave Eggers


CircleIf “Her” showed us how companionship with computers can be, “The Circle” by Dave Eggers describes how we maybe already half way there. Albeit “The Circle” tackles a slightly more specific issue of how, a brilliant but relentlessly pervasive internet technology company ( The Circle) is ever evading the privacy of an ordinary Joe, that is not obsessed or fascinated by the power of the internet or social media. Metaphorically speaking, “The Circle” is very much like the story of “The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf”, the hope being that we find that smart little third pig sooner than later. The one who will be able to withstand the real revolution that is the Internet, or at least be smart enough to use it to his or her advantage.

I’ve have heard of people choosing, maybe even wanting (desperately) to live off the radar, and I thought why in the world would they want to do that. What would we do without constant access to texting, emailing, facebook’ing, instagram ‘ing, what’s app’ing, twitter’ing and whatever the next big thing is. How could we live, could we live? If there is one book that has radically altered my view of the internet and digital landscape it is this one. “The Circle” shows you exactly how tethering close we are to the brink of collapse, to the edge of madness, to the border of insanity, and to the total loss of privacy. Does it sound darkly dystopian? It is. I am convinced our future really is. One quote in the book, that caught my attention and in my mind is the essence of Egger’s message, is this (said in Mae Holland, the book’s protagonist’s words)

“If there is a locked door, I start to make up all kinds of stories about what might be behind it. I feel like it’s some kind of a secret. And it leads me to making up lies. But if all doors are open, physically and metaphorically, there’s only one truth”.

No secrets means no lies. No closed doors means only one truth. The bigger question is are we ready for this truth? Are we ready to put ourselves out there, for everyone to know what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we are thinking as we are doing it. Are we ready to be completely transparent to the world around us?  Only time will tell.

If you want to understand what the internet is doing to the world, “The Circle” is definitely the book for you and if you don’t want to touch another computer or smartphone again, I wouldn’t blame you.

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Book review: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

sharpFresh off the heels of a movie, set in the not-so-distant-future (“Her”) it was back to a dose of reality with Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects”. And, ’twas real and very dark. As reality sometimes is. I am constantly amazed by Gillian Flynn’s writing. Her mastery at dissecting the deepest darkest traits in us human beings and then skillfully going about describing them in a very detailed and precise way, is unparalleled. She has quickly become one of my favorite writers rivaling only Jo Nesbo. “Sharp Objects” follows the journey of Camille Preaker, an upcoming (mediocre at best)  journalist back to her (very small) hometown of Wind Gap, Mo. so she can write a piece on the intriguing happenings gripping town. As she gets pulled further and further into this web of bizzareness surrounding her, we, the readers learn of Camille’s vulnerabilities and the demons she has been battling all her life (insert cutter here, among other things). This is where Flynn’s writing really shines through. She can get us to detest and at the same time feel very sorry for Camille, the irony being, compared to some of the other characters in the book, Camille is really one of the tamer ones. Adora and Amma’s characters are enough to make your stomach roil leave alone the kind of things they do. The plot is superbly executed keeping the reader guessing to the end. One some level, I believe we all have flaws, that dark side we keep secret. We fight the eternal battle of good vs evil, albeit it is sometimes all in our head. Only few of us though, will admit to it. Like Camille Preaker. This description from “goodreads” perfectly sums it up (WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart). Kudos Gillian Flynn! Highly recommend this book if you are a fan of dark mysteries.

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Movie Review: “Her”

The movie “Her” comes pretty close to describing how the world might look like in 20 years. Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 5.26.34 PMThe day can’t be far away when we start viewing a computer not just an enabler, but as a soul mate. The idea seems revolutionary, but in some ways aren’t we already there?
With the majority of jobs nowadays tailored around it, and us being constantly connected on the go with our smartphones and tablets, it is not very hard to imagine a day when our lives are completely intertwined, if not run, by a computer. But can it go so far as having an intimate relationship with one? This is where I could not comprehend how Theodore or Amy could find such a thing perfectly acceptable. “Her”, Samantha is real and perceptive, someone I wish I had in my life as a best friend but would she be a replacement for human contact? I think not. The more we lean towards a computer to fill the void in our lives, the more we isolate ourselves from fellow human beings. Don’t we already hide behind our smartphones, so we don’t have to make awkward conversations with other parents at our kids soccer practice? I know I do. It’s an easy out. But to take that to a new level by having a relationship with an OS, because we feel a connection to it, is something else entirely. The direction is superb and Joaquin Phoenix is a force to reckon with, but the movie “Her” left me feeling a little less human.

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