3.5 stars rounded to 4
There is alway a gravitational pull that steers me towards books about social communication. And Sociable provides a juxtaposition of journalism with the social media platform.
The story is about a twenty something couple Mike and Elinor struggling in the world of journalistic unemployment. They met in a communications class during their undergraduate, and have forged a path of poverty and unfulfilling jobs. Both of them through connections receive jobs in their field, and it feels like things may turn around. While Mike is writing unappreciated scholastic essays of pertinent issues, Elinor is excelling at writing about viral subjects such as coffee, Vans sneakers, celebrities. Mike makes a break from Elinor as she climbs the social media train. As Elinor is negotiating her sadness between tweets, she wonders how and if she will ever find love again.
The novel carries a journalistic style, narrating the story of Elinor and Mike. At first, the third person story-telling was unexpected, but it creates a charming and humorous atmosphere. The novel is a quick, and easy read but it has some shortcomings that may put off the average reader. The first chapter negotiated my interest, and it was a hard sell. But I pushed through and there after the novel flowed more rhythmically. The two main characters themselves were not entirely developed, including their banter, which rendered them seemingly immature and naive. The conversations between characters are self-absorbed rants replete with word debauchery, acronyms, and hashtags. However, at that age twenty years ago, I shared Elinor and Mike’s banalities and labile mood, and love of the word “like, ” and therefore I found them quite relatable and amusing. In fact, I took a pause from reading to reflect if I was actually like that, #yesIwas and #notanymore? Between the conversations, the narrative is well-written and witty. Elinor did grow on me as she was finding her groove, while Mike just reeked of a neanderthal-ism. Being in your twenties is a time of being industrious in employment and love. It is a time replete with highs and lows, mistakes and tears. Harrington conveys this with humor and grace.
Sociable makes a commentary about Millenials and the trend of social media as a form of investigative “BuzzFeed” reporting. In our current mobile society, information is on a text alert basis, scrolling, and swiping right or left The author highlights our obsession with electronic communication as a vehicle to convey our deepest sentiments. And the physical and emotional reactions to the brevities: What did it mean? Why did he or she text? How many likes did I get? All those words are just floating out there randomly waiting to fall into a two-dimensional bubble. And when people are face to face, the art of conversation is lost.
Sociable is not the most sophisticated of stories, but it was a fun read and poignant. The novel almost reminds me of watching a television situation comedy with recurring characters involved in amusing situations. And you find yourself curious about the fate of Elinor. If you want a break from something heavy, I would recommend this book but with the above caveat. Book due our in 2018!