Interesting premise delivered with inconsistent results.



Seven short stories examine the human condition in a technological age.

The title of the collection hints at technology entering into, or colliding with, our everyday lives and the tales loosely follow the suggested guideline—some, such as an opera singer confronted with a more perfect version of her own voice thanks to a recording, adhere; others barely touch upon the subject. “Dennis the Duck Who Looked Like a Boy,” which starts off the collection, presents a duck that emerges from an egg with the physical features of a boy who then undergoes a superficially successful, but ultimately futile, surgery to make it fully human. This tale may be read as absurdist satire, telling us that all the medical advancements in the world cannot change the essence of a living being—even after plastic surgery, a duck is still a duck. Other stories are less absurdist and more simply absurd. In “What You Don’t See,” a shy young man quite literally has his biggest secret exposed, and then finds himself on his way to a career in pornographic films. Here the work does not shy from vulgarity and features, among other things, a U.S. Army-sponsored orgy. But it lacks the incisive social critique to add poignancy to its extremes. In this and other stories, the characters dealing with such outrageous situations are considerably less complex than the situations themselves, and Mogan often describes both physical and emotional characteristics matter-of-factly, lessening the contrast between humans and their machines. Where Mogan is most successful is in “Diva Diva,” the aforementioned tale of the opera singer. There, a woman’s voice, with all its beauties and imperfections, is slowly silenced by its own recording, and the brutal crash of technology upon humanity resonates deeply.

Interesting premise delivered with inconsistent results.

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4251-4645-0

Page Count: 123

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2010

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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