This month, for R29 book club, I invite you down the rabbit hole with Dave Eggers' The Circle. It's a satirical, Chinese finger trap of a book. Though it's all fiction, Eggers' not-so-distant-future is so plausible, I found myself, at times, unable to decipher between what's actually possible, and what's just plain made up. But, don't let this scare you off. The Circle is entertaining, easy to read, and written by one of the most vital voices in contemporary fiction.
I should come clean by saying that I have a nonfiction crush on Dave Eggers. (I may or may not constantly flip to his squinty, thumbnail-sized, author-page photo wondering what our children would look like.) His revolutionary memoir A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius made me want to become a writer (not to mention adopt a little brother, name him Toph, and teach him how to play frisbee), and his work since then — What Is The What, Zeitoun, Hologram For The King, and How We Are Hungry — has only further solidified him as part of the American canon.
Here, Eggers holds a mirror up to Google (or, perhaps, turns a Google Glass to Google), and other like organizations that value community over individuality, transparency over privacy, and a solid programming system above all else. His protagonist, Mae, joins the Circle with the eagerness of a fashion intern
at Conde Nast in comfortable single-soled pumps. It's a company built by "wise men" and run by thousands of start-uppers. And, Mae dives headlong into its infinity, a willing participant in the don't-ask-just-do workplace traditions. The company's sprawling campus is a wonderland. There are parties. There are sleeping quarters. Food is free. (We repeat: Food is free.) But, as we all know, what goes up must come down, get creepy, or, at least, get hit on by a mysterious gray-haired man named Kalden. It is, after all, a circle.
Now who's with me? Pick up the book, read along with us, and tune in next Friday, February 7, for a closer discussion about the book's first 100 (or so) pages. (Tweet us your thoughts @Refinery29 with #R29bookclub in the meantime.) On Friday, 2/14, we'll go over Part 2 (through page 250 or so), and then on Friday, 2/28, we'll finish the entire book (Parts 3 and 4), with a discussion.