Published by: McSweeney’s Publishing
Published on: June 19, 2012
Page Count: 328
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com using a monthly credit.
Audiobook Published by: Recorded Books
Narrator: Dion Graham
Audiobook Length: 7 hours 52 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Alan Clay is in a spot of bother. A once successful salesman, he’s outsourced all need for his personal expertise and his further poor investments have made it impossible for him to afford to send his only daughter to college. At his age, he knows he has few dare to be great business opportunities left. When he has the opportunity to work with a company attempting to sell Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on its holographic capabilities for King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC, pronounced “cake”), a new city he is building, he jumps at it. He doesn’t do so with confidence. In more ways than cultural, Alan is a fish out of water. He is a desperate middle aged man in a Generation Y world.
It is difficult to spend time with Alan. He is on a swift downward spiral and seemingly his every choice serves to make matters worse. He is suffering from jetlag and anxiety when he arrives in Saudi Arabia and he cannot sleep. He comes into contact with contraband alcohol that exacerbates everything. He has a bump on his neck and, consumed with fear that it is cancer and intertwining with his spine, he uses his steak knife to do exploratory surgery on himself. From there, I kept getting flashes of my feelings while watching Requiem for a Dream. It was horrifying to watch Alan demean himself in his pursuit of peace and self-satisfaction.
Dion Graham delivered a great performance with A Hologram for the King. He smooth and empathetic voice was perfect for Alan’s story. This book is in many ways the complete opposite of Locomotion and for me his narration worked equally well in both books. In A Hologram for the King, I also got to experience more of his vocal range with Scandinavian and Middle Eastern characters, such as Yousef, Alan’s driver. What impressed me the most about Graham’s narration were the scenes that portrayed Alan’s impotence in one way or another. The scene where Alan is on the phone with his father was powerfully read.
A Hologram for the King is about Alan Clay, but as the book ended, I saw it as an allegory for American in the 21st Century. In Alan I see the current state of our economy and our waning influence as the Eastern World advances. We’ve outsourced so much of the precision work that Americans used to take pride in for the sake of increased profits. All that is left are holograms. Dave Eggers doesn’t pull any punches in this novel, pointing out that if all we have left to offer the world is holograms we’re very impotent indeed.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to listen to this audiobook. I would recommend it for those times when you want a heavier read and you don’t mind leaving a book feeling a devastated.