Dave Eggers blows my wee mind with The Circle

The CircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel is funny — not funny ha-ha, but funny ironic and funny fucking scary, to be honest. It’s hyperbolic, yeah, on the surface, but the ideas it explores (complete “transparency”) are the endpoint of a current movement in information “sharing” and digital storage. You could believe, as does the anti-hero Mae, the novel’s protagonist, that complete transparency is wonderful. That “sharing is caring.” Or you could believe, with her ex and others, that we’re headed toward the Ultimate Nightmare.

I found myself thinking about this novel while going about my day, connecting its ideas to things like: the cloud, Facebook, Google whatever, working in “the open,” documentation, cyberbullying, our own SNC communio, mental health, contemplation, “space,” … I’m going to stop here to avoid 100% transparency. This would probably be a good novel to include in my next Introduction to Literary Studies (but I’d have to change my theme to Technighmares or something, or “Brave New World”) but I’m afraid that my readers, younger than Mae, will be as caught up in the ideology as she is, and thus unable to get any ironic distance from it.

I recommend this novel to all of my ITS and ed tech friends. Love it, hate it — I’d like to talk about it. I’d like to “share” it, FFS.

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Laurie MacDiarmid serves as Director of Faculty Development and Professor of English at St. Norbert College, a small Catholic liberal arts college on the banks of the Fox River in De Pere, Wisconsin.

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