August 30

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A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

Alan is a likeable, but insecure middle-aged business man. He owes money everywhere and is trying to reconcile relationships with his father, daughter and ex-wife. He has a memory for jokes and a problem saying no. I love him.

For some perfectly random reason, Alan finds himself in Saudi Arabia to pitch security and IT services he knows nothing about to King Abdullah of the King Abdullah Economic City (under construction).  The pitch is be delivered via hologram.

As fantastic as it is, this is not a book to read because of its plot. To me, it is all about Alan. Read this book if you want to cringe and empathise with a character that’s lurching from one crazy situation to the next, investing in every person he meets along the way. The writing is deliberately sparse and proof that the most important skill of a good writer is knowing what to leave out, not what to put in.  On re-reading that sentence, I think I just provided definitive proof that I’m not a good writer.

The humour in this little bestseller wafts over you like the memory of fantastic fart story and I swear I am a better, happier person to have come to know Alan and his hang-ups. They certainly put some of mine into perspective.

I came across author Dave Eggers reading the foreword to Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest is widely known as one of the most challenging books ever written so its funny foreword has provided the perfect delaying tactic for this ‘out of her depth’ reader. I loved the foreword so much that I just had to find out more about the guy who wrote it. It turns out Dave Eggers is an American writer, publisher, activist and regular contributor to The New Yorker. A Hologram for the King was first published in 2012 and made into a film starring Tom Hanks in 2016.

If I never start on Infinite Jest, at least I’ve found Dave Eggers.

And that’s my 2 cents worth.