Thursday, March 3, 2016

"I Hate The Internet" by Jarett Kobek (We Heard You Like Books)

ISBN: 9780996421805 We Heard You Like Books
"I Hate The Internet" by Jarett Kobek (We Heard You Like Books, 2016)

San Francisco has always been an odd city to me.  There are many wonderful things about it, but then the technology internet companies moved in, and sort of changed the landscape from the literary beats with great bars to Google world.  Yet the city houses one of the great bookstores in the world, the iconic (rightfully so) City Lights, but alas, the literary tradition does continue on, which is Jarett Kobek's novel "I Hate The Internet."   Yet, the novel doesn't prowl through the streets of Dashell Hammett or Jack Spicer, but the sorry state of Google, Facebook, which is now tattooed on the image of San Francisco.  On the other hand, it can be any city in America that embraces a technology that brings riches to a few, yet can leave a greater population empty - as in desire and promises not full-filled. 

I read very little of contemporary novels, but I have to say Kobek's book is really rooted into the "now."   I have never read a book that is so now, and not only that, it is a great novel.  It is my ideal of fiction writing in which it is about ideas, culture and politics. I imagine if Guy Debord wrote fiction it would be like "I Hate The Internet."  Kobek pretty much describes the dangers of the computer world, and what it promises to be, as in opening up new worlds for the consumer/visitor, but more likely the sole purpose is to either collect your personal information, or sell you something.  It's capitalism, but taken on to another tech level.   

There are characters, that are both real and fictional, or fictional real, but what is interesting to me is when Kobek breaks down the ills which are the American world, that is basically defined by Google and other sites.  Without a doubt, the Internet is quite useful, but there is also a price that goes with it, and in many ways, it is sort of the death of a culture that was once much loved.  Or, at least those who lived a long time, or have a memory of a life before the Net.  Excellent commentary on the American 21st century. 

- Tosh Berman

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