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Touch Hardcover – May 30, 2017
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Courtney Maum's exuberant new novel sends up the world of techie consumerism....[Her] writing is easy, eager and colloquial. . . . [She] shines when she writes about creativity, the slow burn and then sudden rush of ideas....Good writing about creativity is rare. Maum captures that fragile, gratifying, urgent process."—New York Times Book Review
“Irresistible. . . It’s impressive that Ms. Maum has managed to make a return to old-fashioned family values—and even commonplace acts of physical intimacy—seem daring and subversive. Maybe it will beckon a trend.”—Wall Street Journal
“A sharp, poignant take on our digitally dependent lives.”—Marie Claire
"Touch is an interesting take on what life would be like if we just put down our phones and stepped away from the computer. Maum reminds us to not forget about those who are living and breathing right around us. Because a loving hug, tight squeeze, or simple touch is so much more fulfilling than a text."—Associated Press
“Sweet and funny. . . A sharp yet feeling satire, Touch bristles with insights into the longing for warm, messy, inefficient, and imperfect human life buried in our increasingly streamlined, disembodied now.”—Interview
“Maum's takedown of our screen-addicted culture is funny and wise. It's perfect for vacation because it's breezy but not shallow. You can read it in a day and think, That was fun, and I feel better about the world.”—HGTV Magazine
“A satirical but sincere look at our thirst for ‘in-personism.’”—Departures
"Touch is an of the moment satire you should not miss.”—Domino
“Tech forecasting takes center stage in a diverting new novel.”—Time
“[A] sharp, funny satire . . . Maum has a lot of fun poking fun at our tech- and self-obsessed lives, but she also offers a compassionate plea for the importance of family, real human interaction and empathy.”—Miami Herald
“It’s fiction, but you’ll never look at your devices the same.”—Glamour
“Courtney Maum has seen the future. . . . Delightfully strange.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
About the Author
Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Touch and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and the chapbook “Notes from Mexico.” She has been published in outlets such as the New York Times; Tin House; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Buzzfeed; and has worked as a trend forecaster, a fashion publicist, and a party promoter for Corona Extra in the past. She currently works as a makeup shade and product namer from her home in Litchfield County, CT where she founded the interdisciplinary retreat The Cabins.
Top customer reviews
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I don’t think Courtney Maum was trying to come across like one of those articles, but what she was going for just wasn’t strong or compelling enough to resonate.
Touch’s main character, Sloane Jacobsen, is a world-renowned trend forecaster and self-proclaimed “anti-breeder” whose edgy opinions and savvy predictions have landed her a consulting gig at the NYC-based tech giant Mammoth. Hired to lead their annual conference celebrating a future in which technology replaces genuine human interaction, Sloane soon finds herself veering away from her long-held positions on both. To the CEO’s dismay, she predicts that empathy and touch will soon make a comeback, pitting her at odds with the company’s mission.
To Maum’s credit, the characters she has created are hilarious and spot-on, such as Sloane’s ex-boyfriend, Roman, a French intellectual who has recently declared the death of penetrative sex; and the CEO of Mammoth, Daxter, a smarmy caricature of very young white male tech entrepreneur.
Maum is a sharp, observational writer, but her ideas are earnest and over-simplified to the point of triteness. It’s clear that she was going for satire, but even that fails to resonate as strongly as it could have: it’s like she got stuck between satire and sincerity and didn’t fully realize either. In one notably corny scene, an exasperated Mammoth employee exclaims, “I want to play with my kids again, but I can’t put down my phone!” Ironically, this kind of commentary just doesn’t feel revelatory at this point.
I’ll end on a positive note: One thing Touch made me think about is the frankly alarming nature of trend forecasting. Maum subtly and smartly suggests that it’s a chicken-and-egg scenario: do collective human desires evolve naturally, or do they simply adapt to whichever new commodities are placed in front of them? If the latter, then the implications of this are pretty terrifying.
(The Circle, by Dave Eggers, is a lot more interesting on the subject of what a society-dominating tech company feels like on the inside.)
The heroine is a high powered trend forecaster, and is gifted with a kind of second sight for the next big thing. I really enjoyed the stream of consciousness of her thoughts when she is tapping into her predictions. You will cheer her on when she comes up against the giant tech company that she is working for. The book reveals a lot about our current culture of everyone looking at their phones and not at each other, and that the real redemption that is found only in touch.