Monday, March 31

Slow Snow Slog; and Book Rec: "Feed"

Here are the places I went as 3.5" of wet sloppy snow accumulated today, my only available errand day this week: Got a haircut. Target run. Took Evan to Verizon in Roseville to replace his broken phone. Dropped him off and went to the bank. Went back because I forgot to pick up Potamus, who stayed with Dennis and Jarrett while Evan and I went to Loyola in Chicago. Post office. Home for two hours; a time of inadvertent napping.

Got Jarrett and brought him to the dentist. (Dad picked him up.) Went too far north on Hamline and was funneled into Snelling going north. Got gas. Noticed windshield wiper was broken so went back down south to pick up a new wiper. Needed tools to install it so decided to skip it until I could get to the garage. Back up north to Mike's Discount Foods. And home.

WHAT I'M READING NOW: M. T. Anderson's teen/young adult book "Feed," set in a dystopian future.

In M. T. Anderson's "Feed," everyone is bathed in and entertained by a constant feed directly into their heads; it's 24/7 ads, music, video and gaming feeds, fads, fashion and hairstyle news, and telepathic communication with friends. People are happily distracted from concerns about the outside world, and can barely read, write, or think for themselves. During spring break, Titus and his friends go to the moon ("We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck") where he meets Violet, and where the group of friends is "hacked," ending up in the hospital without feeds for several days. After the feeds are reconnected, Titus and Violet continue to experience disturbing hacks on their feeds.

That's as far as I've gotten, though the blurb indicates that Titus and Violet will decide to "fight the feed." "Feed" reads like an unsettling and hilarious mix of George Orwell and empty "Valley Girl" dialog (which for this adult, is getting a little annoying.) It's a cautionary tale, and I'm eager to see if Anderson's ending is as bleak as Orwell's in "1984."

Any librarian who has watched dozens of people sitting elbow-to-elbow at long tables, riveted to their computer screens, will recognize the power of the Feed. Like the Internet, the Feed started as educational tool but quickly morphed into a business and pleasure emporium that delights, distracts, and captivates. Envision a constant silent cell phone link added, and it's easy to project into our own future a scenario in which virtual contact continues to eclipse the physical presence of all but our closest friends.

Good lines:

"Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, "I'm so null," and Marty was all "I'm null, too, unit," but I mean we were all pretty null . . ."

The grownups speak the same way. When Titus's dad visits the hospital, he explains that Mom is, "'She's like, whoa, she's like so stressed out. This is . . . Dude.' He said, 'Dude, this is some way bad shit.'"

The doctor who gets their feeds back online says, "Could we like get a thingie, a reading on his limbic activity?"

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