The first half of the book is dizzying — stupid — hilarious — it’s a series of seemingly random impressions, vignettes, observations and ideas of a narrator who is an Internet celebrity and is steeped in Internet culture.
“Ahahaha!” she yelled, the new and funnier way to laugh.
Jane Austen’s style: What someone said at breakfast over cold mutton, a fatal quadrille error, the rising of fine hackles in the drawing room.
Our narrator does have a social conscience:
Capitalism! It was important to hate it, even though it was how you got money.
“Don’t normalize it!!!!!” we shouted at each other. But all we were normalizing was the use of the word normalize, which sounded like the action of a ray gun wielded by a guy named Norm to make everyone around him Norm as well.
Even a spate of sternly worded articles called “Guess What: Tech Has an Ethics Problem” was not making tech have less of an ethics problem. Oh man. If that wasn’t doing it, what would??
I have really enjoyed the other pieces I have read by Patricia Lockwood, so I was looking forward to this novel. I was not disappointed. There’s a lot of ingeniously banal silliness, the kind I could read all day. It’s like the Best of Twitter or something. Having said that, she is skeptical of social media. And who isn’t?
A person might join a site to look at pictures of her nephew and five years later believe in a flat earth.
So all that amusing nonsense sets the scene. Then the narrator’s (real) life suddenly gets complicated as her family falls into a… not a tragedy, but a very wrenching and difficult ongoing situation. The story changes as emotion and pathos mix in with the archness and irony. The narrator reveals great depths of feeling and tenderness and it is all quite moving. The book is very different at the end from how I thought it would be at the beginning.