Monday, November 04, 2013

Book reviews of "The Circle" reviewed here

In yesterday's post commenting on Dave Egger's book "The Circle", it was noted here that no reviews whatsoever had been read here before reading the book and writing a commentary.  The book seemed to be an unusual offering from Eggers and there was no influence wanted here.

Last night and today I browsed through what many of the reviewers had been writing.  Never has the word dystopia been so widely used, showing up in erudite commentary in major publications and in semi-literate rants on Amazon's reader reviews.

The reviews in major publications and on major websites tended to be warmly positive but thoughtfully restrained.  The New York Times was schizophrenic.  On October 3 Michiko Katutani wrote a review that added to any dialogue underway in a constructive way.  On November 3 in the New York Times Book Review Ellen Ullman(?) wrote a terrible review, not primarily because it had a somewhat negative slant but because it was 90% just a chronological retelling of the book's story, something a junior high school student might write.

The primary negative commentary in well known magazines and websites came from those focused on the technology world, and they were offended by Egger's lack of technical knowledge and his audacity to write about an area which he admitted to having no major first hand experience.  An exception to that was Nick Kolakowski's commentary on the technology website "Slashdot" which didn't exactly stand up and applaud Egger's efforts but clearly appreciated what he was trying to do, and took the book in stride and with humor.

"Google Blog Search" was a different story.  There were a range of reviews with seemingly little middle ground.  Amazon's customer reviews were similarly divided, but the hostility in the negative reviews was at times extreme.  One even accused Egger's of "laughing all the way to the bank", certainly an original comment and certainly one from someone who knows absolutely nothing about Eggers.

It was an interesting to see what was out there.  I do wonder where my commentary fits into all of this. 


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