Somewhere between middle -age and a caustic divorce Alan Clay is having an identity crisis- will he ever figure out who he is?
Dave Eggers is always highly readable, and rewards his readers with interesting settings, rich characterization, and generally compelling stories. The plot here is rather thin, and I suspect this would have worked better as a short story, or possibly a novella. A middle-aged salesman, on the brink of economic and personal failure, relies on an extremely tenuous business connection to try to land a contract with the Saudi Arabian king for an IT company--the maker of the holograms of the title. What ensues is largely theater of the absurd, with plenty of time for soul-searching and reflection. In the hands of a lesser writer, this would have been a difficult book to write. Eggers pulls it off, but just barely.
This is an entertaining and interesting novel set in the context of the American recession and decline of American manufacturing; as one character says, the US is now just tourism and shopping. The style of the writing - somewhat sparse and thin - reflects the middle-aged businessman's emptiness and loneliness. In one way, it is a "The Death of the Salesman" meets "Waiting for Godot" for the 21st century.
Good choice for a summer read. Well written and interesting analysis of Saudi Arabia.
I thought the story started strong but by page 75 it started to bog down. I started losing empathy for the protagonist who is weak and a bit dim witted and eventually all interest in a story that is just plain dismal. This is not Dave Eggers best work; for that read The Circle.
My first Eggers book & the symbolism was much too heavy-handed for me. The American middle class is an impotent middle-aged guy waiting in a tent in a desert to sell a phantom product while worrying about selling his house & putting his kid through college. In places the writing sparkles, but I just didn't care about the protagonist nor understand why attractive women were throwing themselves at him.
This book scored incredibly low on not only goodreads.com, but also my libraries user-based rating system. Truly, I thought it was excellent. For the first hundred pages or so I thought it was annoying that the story was about a WASP man in Saudi Arabia who couldn't catch a break, but I realized quickly it was about globalization and capitalism, the downfalls of many nations. In short, I loved it.
Haven't finished it yet, but intriguing enough to keep the pages turning. All the middle-aged white guy ennui can get exhausting, but great setting and very well written.
An satisfying novel following an affable middle aged entrepreneur quietly battling his constantly evolving world. In staying true to his convictions, he ultimately prevails in finding true purpose and contentment. Mr. Eggers presents an authentic and compelling view of the new global economy world.
Marvellous little book that documents the material and spiritual decline of 20th American business, and businessmen, and how it all ties in to a global marketplace which makes for the strangest of strange bedfellows. Truly a must-read.
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