Remember when Bilbo celebrated his birthday in Laketown with a dreadful cold? Perhaps this cold of mine is a sign that the year ahead will be filled with memorable adventures with new friends. And treasure. It probably means I'm going to take possession of more treasure than I can carry, don't you think?
Here in my subdued state I have been reading and knitting. Do you have The Glitch on your radar? It's about Shelley Stone, the CEO of a company that produces a piece of wearable technology called the Conch-- a little gadget that sits behind the user's ear and offers input. It reads texts and emails so the user doesn't even have to glance at them; it offers advice about avoiding traffic and identifies other Conch wearers whose names the user can't quite retrieve. But all is not well in Conch-world. The novel describes the problems that unfurl for the CEO: at work, with the product and with her colleagues, and at home.
It reminded me of Sourdough, with its fantastical skewering of the tech world, but the writing and the plotting are both better in The Glitch. I kept highlighting sentences because they struck me as so zingily perfect. The last chunk of the book raises some intriguing ethical questions that the author doesn't really grapple with, but I'm not done chewing on them.
If you read it, tell me what you think. Also: does Shelley have autism? (How about her daughter?) She's relentlessly explicit with herself about managing social interactions, perpetually talking about sensory challenges, repeatedly engaging in a painful self-soothing ritual. I found her to be a really interesting character-- more sympathetic than I expected based on Laura Vanderkam's summary. I'm still thinking about whether or not I buy the final scene.
I am also reading Educated, the memoir of a woman raised by Idaho survivalists. It's like a Rocky Mountain version of The Glass Castle, which I read and loved last summer. In both books, the younger kids in big families are hit harder when parents won't deal with their mental health issues. I'm only a quarter of the way through Educated, but I'm finding it gripping and thought-provoking. Some of the questions it raises are ones I've thought about before as a homebirther and former homeschooler-- what are the boundaries of parents' rights to make decisions that will influence a child's well-being? Some of the questions it raises are especially timely in our increasingly polarized culture: how should one respond to people who think that their political opponents are necessarily blind and foolish, or that education outside the home is a force for evil? The author's father has some choice words about college professors, for instance.
My fever-addled brain just barfed up "boundary's" as an acceptable substitute for "boundaries," which suggests to me that I should put it to bed pronto. Good night, friends! Let me know if you spot my Arkenstone.