The Unbinding

Walter Kirn, Author Anchor Books $13.95 (165p) ISBN 978-0-307-27741-1
Kirn (Thumbsucker) serialized this neat surveillance culture satire on Slate.com in 2006. The web version makes a mostly smooth transition to print, except for items in bold that Kirn encourages readers to type into the book's accompanying web site. The book centers around Kent Selkirk, who makes his living at a company called AidSat, a kind of invasively cyber Dear Abby-like organization designed to coach desperate people on everything from alternatives to suicide to negotiating the purchase of a home. (Caller heart rates are monitored through bracelets and ear jacks.) When smug Selkirk starts to develop a crush on bland neighbor Sabrina, he uses AidSat to his advantage, but is unaware that others are working against him. Adding an element of mystique is Sabrina's eccentric friend Colonel Geoff, who talks incessantly and mysteriously of ""The Unbinding."" The familiar morals-that people are not who they appear to be, that they can easily lose track of themselves in the cybercacophony, and that exhibitionism is replacing real contact-are done with a light enough touch and enough novel content to make the thin conceit and epistolary format work swimmingly. The Crying of Lot 49 this isn't, but it's a quick and funny George Saunders-esque slice-and-dice of creeping corporate information hegemony.
Reviewed on: 01/29/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007
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FORMATS
Open Ebook - 113 pages - 978-0-307-27976-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-01922-5
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