A pleasing metaphysical ramble through the nexus of self, emotion, memory, and experience in the digital age.

A French writer and translator explores the changing nature of the human experience when the internet is virtually inescapable.

Most Gen X readers have the ability to remember life before the internet but also to live now at the relentless pace that the digital age requires. Renouard, formerly a teacher of philosophy, turns his considerable intellect to the consequences of life with the internet, specifically his own. One might expect such a contemplation to be either technical in detail or hopelessly academic, but the author strikes a surprisingly conversational tone. As the narrative opens, the author is on a Paris boulevard, idly daydreaming about whether he could use Google to reconstruct where he was and what he was doing at a certain time two evenings prior. “For some people,” he writes, “to throw a few words into Google has become the gesture of a new form of divination—googlemancy.” These succinct but evocative chapters aren’t essays in the traditional sense but rather pieces of a scaffolding on which the author can hang his often inspired, sometimes perplexing reflections. It doesn’t hurt that Renouard’s language is quite nimble. He can state the obvious with grace—“Each generation sees the technological advances of the previous era—no matter how near—as excrescences of an ancient world”—and then circle back to the thought in a subsequent chapter with a poetic melancholy: “In the Internet there is a fountain of youth into which you drunkenly plunge your face at first, then see your reflection battered by the years, in the dawn light.” Using films, books, and personal experiences as touchstones, Renouard offers a thoughtful consideration not of the internet’s properties or even its possibilities but how its very presence changes us as human beings.

A pleasing metaphysical ramble through the nexus of self, emotion, memory, and experience in the digital age.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68137-280-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview