Van has finished reading…The Circle by Dave Eggers

13 Feb

The irony is hard to ignore. Albeit I tell myself – and I think justifiably so – that I write these ‘reviews’ more as a means to have a record of what I read, what I like in those books and the ways in which they affect me, I also know that the second I press publish I will have unleashed that opinion on the world. Okay, so it’s quite conceivable that it will never be read by another person. That’s fine. I’ll not lose sleep over the fact. But what is interesting is that it’s the fact that someone else might read it that informs what I put down. As much as I might try to dismiss it, that self-consciousness is there. Someone else may read it – and by it they will notice me; judge me.
And then there’s Twitter. I’ve always had this weird sort of disconnect with the term ‘follow’. I understand it perfectly when it comes to the people I have chosen to follow, and with me it’s definitely a discriminate (adjectively-speaking) thing. But the fact that people have also chosen to follow me – somehow the term just doesn’t sit so comfortably when reflected. When I publish, a tweet will be sent to those people who have connected with me (which feels closer to the transaction for me, though even there the connotations spiral).
And I’ll wonder: will anyone follow the link to find out what it says? Are these connections mere reciprocations, or is there a deeper sense of interest? Will they see it as merely self-promoting? Will they unfollow? Perhaps no-one will retweet it…but then what does that mean?

I don’t think it’s that modern technology has enabled us to connect in ways that just weren’t possible fifty years ago, but that it’s allowed it on a scale that was heretofore unprecedented. The dilemma we face with this is that there has to be a tipping-point. How many is too many? I freely admit that I don’t necessarily find people easy, so my too many may be a good deal lower than yours. But everyone has to have their limit. There has to be a point beyond which effective management of all those relationships means that someone’s going to miss out. And that person will likely feel bad about it. The more you run to keep up the more likely you are to slip.
And of course all you do then is end up focussing on the one or two communications that didn’t quite work out, rather than continuing to tend all the ones that did.

I’m glad to see that this book has tilted my relationship with Dave Eggers into the positive (one book abandoned; two read). This one is definitely my favourite of his. Despite being a sizeable book I never felt it flag. It’s in the nature of reading novels I think that you can see to some extent where this one is going, but it navigates with wit and skill. The most surprising thing for me is to sit now and think whether there are any characters that I particularly liked or felt for. It’s probably down to Mae’s Mum and Dad. Everyone else at one point or another I felt the unswerving desire to shake vigorously. Well, I did say I don’t necessarily find people easy!
A good book; thought-provoking and really quite scary; let’s hope not too prescient!


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