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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kirn, Walter: The Unbinding

  Amazon  

3 stars

When we meet  him, Kent Selkirk seems like a nice guy. He's a formerly lost soul who found himself, or at least a purpose, when he began working for AidSat. AidSat is a kind of über-OnStar system, a company that monitors its subscribers' vital signs constantly via miked tiepins and bracelets, whose employees are always available to offer assistance of any kind--from product reviews to relationship advice to the dispatch of a police cruiser or ambulance. Kent is romantically interested in an AidSat subscriber, a certain Sabrina who happens to live in his complex, and he avails himself of AidSat's database and monitoring tools to gather information about her.

That's part of the story anyway. Or is it? And is Kent even a good guy? Selkirk's novel is told from multiple perspectives, largely through journal entries, email, and inter-agency memos. Kent, for example, offers his version of events in posts to an online journaling site. But it turns out that he is not necessarily a reliable reporter of events. Indeed, as far as I can tell no one in the book can be trusted, or at least, we don't know whom to trust. The various characters are purposely misleading one another--and us--and one or more of them may be deluded. It's a difficult story, in short, to get one's head around.

The Unbinding was originally written in serial form for publication in real time on Slate.com. (The book retains "hyperlinks" of a sort--text that appears here in bold was linked when the book was in digital form. One can go to the author's web site to follow the links, but it's not necessary.) It's genesis alone makes Kirn's book interesting. And I find AidSat a very appealing entity as well--an almost omniscient, presumably mostly benevolent near-deity, man-made, made up of innumerable components. Sort of like the internet. Big Brother 2.0. But I'm afraid the book itself, an exploration of the dangers of intrusive technology, was too cryptic for me to fully appreciate.

Comments

1.

This sounds like exactly my kind of book. I love exploring multiple perspectives and unreliable narrators. Thank you for reviewing this!

2.

Glad to hear it, Heather! I'll be curious to see what you think of it.

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