Book Review The Guest Cat Takashi Hiraide

This is a beautifully written, lyrical book, more like poetry than prose it is translated from Japanese. A couple in their thirties in the suburbs of Tokyo are befriended by a neighbour’s cat. She entwines herself into their lives. This is a quiet, gentle book with exquisite descriptions of nature. It captures perfectly the rhythms of life, the little sorrows and joys. A perfect novel: like a China cup discovered in a junk store.


Book Review The Circle Dave Eggers

Dec 29, 14

3 of 5 stars

Read from December 08 to 28, 2014

Hmm…. I am struggling to decide what I think of this book. It is dystopian fiction set in the near future. The Circle which seems to be an amalgam of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple is bent on controlling everything, ostensibly for benign purposes such as universal harmony, health care and brotherly love. Mae is the central character. She leaves her hick town to go to work at the Circle where she becomes ever more successful. 

So we are in a kind of sanitised 1984. I couldn’t decide what the book was trying to say apart from the usual warnings about surveillance, lack of privacy, totalitarianism which we have heard before from Orwell. Mae is not Winston. She is a curiously flat character who believes everything the Circle does is good. She ignores all the signs the universe is giving her: the couple on the boat in the bay, her parents, her old boyfriend, her canoe trip, the offer of escape from Kalden. I was left feeling very emotionally unsatisfied by this. I was willing her to make a stand however futile.

The book is accessible and the themes are current. It is slow in parts and I took a long time to read it though I was busy at the time.

It did make me review the amount of pointless time I give to social media and think about the purpose of it. Yet the book does not convince you against it.

There is some wry humour at points. Sending the frown to the South American rebels who could not access it really made me laugh. The clunking metaphor of the shark in the fish tank eating everything in its path was as subtle as a brick and I am not sure why it was included. I am left with the feeling that the author thinks his audience is stupid.