Top critical review
19 people found this helpful
At Arm's Length, with the Occasional Chuckle
on December 8, 1999
Anderson has done some admirable heavy lifting to present a just-in-time, high concept, bullet train of mild satire and cleverness. It takes awhile get used to and wade through the topical references to events, people, places, and things, both real and vividly imagined, that five years from now will make this novel seem like it was written in a dead language. Readers seem to have widely differing opinions about whether the characters are compelling,it's funny, etc. If you don't have any interest and affinity for the Fast Company/Hollywood/Web culture you'll hate it. I'm familiar enough with the worlds of the novel (at the grunt level anyway) to get the jokes and admire the imagination. But if you want a book that deals deeper with whether we lose our "soul" and connection to others by what we do for work, try JR, by William Gaddis (an author whose movie rights Anderson's character Ben Gould buys up in one of his "charitable" schemes). Overall, Turn of the Century is a too-long, although often amusing piece that relies so heavily on a reader's existing knowledge of the scene that I found myself holding the characters at arm's length. I prefer being a little more intimate.