Monday, July 30, 2012

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

Alan Clay has a life that's unravelling - a series of bad decisions have brought him to middle age with a bitter ex-wife, no money, a shattered career, and a strange lump on the back of his neck. He's sure one meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia would solve all his problems - if only the King would show up!

With this novel, Eggers presents a mash-up of "Death of a Salesman" and "Waiting for Godot." Pathetic salesman waits for his next (last?) big presentation that he's sure will finally bring him success. While waiting for the king, it seems Alan may completely fall apart - or die by his own ineptitude.

It's a slow-speed car crash that you can't avoid. From the start you know the storyline is unlikely to come out well for Alan, but just how it goes and where it ends is the mystery. Alan's wandering mind takes us back and forth in time, in jerky bits of story and memory. He bumbles into several adventures that could either bring epiphany or the end.

I enjoyed this book simply as one man's foibles and failures - but if you wish, you could also analyze lots of ideas about commercialism, out-sourcing, modern technology, consumerism ...

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