Tag Archives: A Hologram for the King

‘A Hologram for the King’ Movie Review

13 Jul

Movie Poster via Wikipedia

When I read A Hologram for the King, I wasn’t expecting much. I’d read an Eggers book before but the topic was so vastly different that I didn’t see how the same man could have written both books. I adored Hologram but couldn’t articulate well why. It reminded me a bit of Waiting for Godot but set in Saudi Arabia. That doesn’t instill much confidence, does it? I was excited when the movie came out but it didn’t get much hype. I took it up north to my parents’ cottage to watch with them and hubby and everyone seemed to like it though it had a meandering plot similar to the book.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

The King’s Metropolis of Economy and Trade. Description of the city is one thing, but seeing it on-screen was incredible. I kept having questions about how there was water and electricity in that remote part of the desert, but that’s beside the point. It was crazy to see the city rising out of the desert and even crazier to know it’s based on an actual city! The novel used the real name, King Abdullah Economic City.

Yousef. The quirky and mischievous driver was more fun in real life. He was really funny and I can’t remember how much of that humor was present in the book. My favorite line was when he found out Alan was late and said, “If you’re in a hurry, we should be going this way,” and did a complete 180 in the taxi.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Seeing Mecca. I don’t remember that part from the book at all. It was fun to have it thrown in, adding a little more adventure to Alan’s trip to Yousef’s home. It was clear the images were stock, which was the only thing that bothered me. I think they could have been worked in a little better but it was a fun scene to add.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Communication with Kit. Alan was writing to Kit all the time in the book. His inability to provide for her as a father was a major motivator for him to stick around in Jeddah and wait for the King to show up. It was clear she was part of his reason and motivation, but I think it was more stressed in the book.

Things That Changed Too Much

The ending. This was the only thing that really bothered me. I remember the ending of the book is annoyingly vague. Alan was going to stay but wasn’t sure what he would do or where he would live. Nothing was going well with Dr. Zahra and he was very alone. All of that was different in the book. He was selling housing units at KMET, he was living with Zahra, and he seemed really happy. One of the things I loved about the book is that it didn’t wrap up in a nice little bow but the movie did. It was 20 seconds at the end, but it was too much for me.

I was sad to hear this was a box office flop. I guess other people don’t enjoy movies about waiting as much as I do. Reader, have you seen the A Hologram for the King movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 16-July-2014

16 Jul

Almost in reaction to last week’s progress, I’ve got almost nothing to report for MizB’s WWW meme. I guess that’s what happens when you do a 120 mile bike tour over the weekend. So there is that, right?!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m about halfway through The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. I’ve taken a bit of a break from it to work through the huge pile of Cosmo magazine on my bedside table but I’ll start it again tonight.  I’m making slow progress through  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on my phone. It seems so familiar I think I’ve read it, but i don’t remember it enough to stop. On audio, I just started is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, but I’m embarrassingly still on the first disk! I haven’t been doing a lot of driving besides to and from work and I need to step up my game. My carpool buddy and I started Looking for Alaska by John Green and she is loving it, as am I. We’re almost through the first disk and I think we’ll keep moving well on it.

Recently finished: Nothing finished, unfortunately. Not even much progress on the books I’m reading, really. I did write a review for A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, so you can check that out.

Reading Next:  I’m still hoping to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. We’ll see after that.

I’ve got a bit more time at home this weekend so I can do some reading. I’m making ‘The Coward’ my goal for the week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers (4/5). I can’t put my finger on just why I loved this book.

15 Jul

My book clubs have been amazing at picking books lately. This last selection was something I never would have considered and hadn’t heard of, but I absolutely LOVED it.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

Alan Clay is almost bankrupt and almost hopeless. His last chance seems to be selling hologram telephone equipment to King Abdullah for the new Saudi Arabian city he’s building on the coast. The only problem is, no one knows when the King will arrive. He hasn’t been around in ages and his plans change constantly. So there’s nothing to do but wait.

Alan finds several ways to entertain himself in the very foreign country. His co-workers are much younger than himself and he makes new friends; a foreign worker living on an ex-pat compound who is able to introduce him to illicit parties and a local cab-driver who invites him to visit a house in the mountains where old traditions still hold strong. Alan is fascinated with the country around him as he waits and waits and waits and waits….

I absolutely adored this book. Eggers writing was engaging and his characters were very unique. I loved how they all had two sides; the side they showed in public, and the side they kept hidden from the eyes of the Kingdom. I know several Saudis and while what’s in this book might be extreme, I’ve heard that it’s pretty accurate. I loved that I could relate to this book in that way. I guess my only complaint would be that not much happened, but that seemed to be on purpose. Our book club leader said that this was often compared to ‘Waiting for Godot’ and I can see the similarities. If you couldn’t guess, I adored ‘Godot’ as well.

My cultural knowledge about Saudi Arabia is pretty basic. I had friends who were from there in college, dating a guy from there (SHOCKER!) and have a friend who lived on an ex-pat compound during an internship. So I guess I know more than the average Joe, but I’m no expert. The characters Eggers described fit a lot of the impressions I had from my friends. I loved the Danish consultant who took him to ex-pat parties; this reminded me of stories from my friend who lived there. I liked the conservative cousins Alan ran into at Yousef’s house in the mountains; they reminded me of some of the Saudi’s I met at school while others reminded me of Yousef. I think they showed a pretty good spread of Saudi’s and other residents.

Yousef was my favorite character. I liked his story the best. He’d gone to college in the US, wanted to do something different from his family and went out on his own. I liked the insight he was able to provide to Alan on Saudi life. He reminded me most of my friends from Saudi. On the surface, they’re conservative but they harbor a desire to be radical; to experience something different and break a few rules. But, when pushed too far, they’ll revert back to the conservative upbringing they had. This is one of the aspects of Saudi culture I find most fascinating; the attraction to changing things, but the simultaneous desire to keep it as it is.

Dave Eggers Image via Amazon.com

Dave Eggers
Image via Amazon.com

I related to Alan’s uncertainty in the story. He seems to bounce between decisions constantly and I feel that way about my life some times. I struggle to make hard commitments and decisions and I saw this in Alan’s inability to write his daughter a letter and his reluctance to see a doctor about the growth on his neck.

The plot line with Dr. Hakem was my favorite. She was such a strong woman who defied stereotypes of woman from that region. I loved how bold she was, even if I didn’t fully agree with her infidelity. I loved how sure she was of herself and her medical skill was commendable. It must have been a struggle to put a strong female character in a book set in Saudi Arabia, but Eggers did it really well.

I’m not sure I had a ‘least favorite’ part of this book. It was really solid throughout. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars is because not much happened, but then again that was the point. In my mind, it reached its full potential.

Would you believe this book is being made into a movie? Starring Tom Hanks? It seems to be true.

Waiting for Godot was once described as,

“a theoretical impossibility—a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats.”
-Vivian Mercier, The Irish Times 18 Feb. 1956

I think A Hologram for the King is a literary equivalent. Alan does nothing of importance, accomplishes nothing, and kept me turning the pages as quickly as possible. I think this is very reminiscent of life; we go from day-to-day, doing something, but never really going anywhere. At least, we don’t know where we’re going and we don’t know when we’ll get there. The characters in most stories have a purpose; a drive, an adventure, a mission. Alan Clay had a mission, to make a sale, but he doesn’t do it. Moreover, he has to wait before he can even try to do it. In what world is that a mission? This book is memorable for its blandness.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book might be the worst example of a ‘Writer’s Takeaway’ section yet. I don’t think we should try to replicate this style. It’s a unique form to write a book like this and I don’t think many amateur authors (I’m assuming not many seasoned professionals are reading this) could pull it off. I think the best thing to take from this is that your character can always be doing something, but it won’t always lead to an end, but you can still make it interesting.

I adored this book. Four out of five stars.

This book fulfills ‘Foreign Country: Saudi Arabia” for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Dave Eggers’ A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING | Bite the Book
A Hologram for the King. Dave Eggers Come Back, Please | Walworth Sentiments
Failure of a Salesman – Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King | Books and Bits
2012 National Book Award finalist in Fiction: Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King | Vaguely Borgesian

Like this review? Let me know on Goodreads.

WWW Wednesday, 2-July-2014

2 Jul

A bit of progress for MizB’s WWW. Enough that it’s respectable.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m at the final stopping point of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I plan on plowing through it come July 5th. I’m so excited to finish this one. On audiobook I’m half way through Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and I’m hoping to make more progress soon. I’ve been driving a lot this week (vacation!) and getting through it well. I picked the final ARC off my shelf, The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. I just finished Part I but I’ve slowed down a bit to finish ‘Orphan Master.’

Recently finished: I soared through A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I can’t put my finger on what was so awesome about it, but I really really loved this book. I’m excited to discuss it with my book club in August. Last night I finished off The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. This had a solid ending, I really enjoyed it.

Reading Next:  There are a few. My book club is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe which I have on hold for audio. Hopefully I can start that soon. I put Looking for Alaska by John Green on hold for my carpool buddy and I to listen to so that should be started soon. And I want to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I’ve also put the eBook for The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on hold to fulfill the 1950-1969 time period.

I hope to finish at least one for next week but I’ll be out-of-town for the 4th. My cousin is getting married! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-June-2014

25 Jun

As expected, not much to report for MizB’s WWW though I’ve been progressing nicely!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve slowed down just a bit onThe Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s good, but not so gripping that I can’t put it down.. I’m at the final stopping point of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’ll remain there until after the 4th of July holiday so don’t expect any movement there. And please be a dear (unlike Nicole) and don’t tell me who dies at the end. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser but I’m still on the first disk. I guess I haven’t driven anywhere alone in a while. My carpool buddy and I are almost done with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Final disk! I’m getting close to finishing A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. It’s very unlike his other book that I’ve read but I’m really enjoying it so far!

Recently finished: Nothing finished. This gives me a sad face because I’ve made so much progress with all of my books! I did review Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan which you can enjoy.

Reading Next:  I have  The Coward by Kyle R Bullock next on my shelf. After that I’m going to seriously attack my When Are You Reading? Challenge and try to knock out the remaining time periods as fast as I can! I’m starting to get nervous on this one.

I should have some progress to report next week! Possibly two books. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-June-2014

18 Jun

Thanks to MizB’s WWW, I’ve been motivated to power through some books!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m slowly continuing The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Still not sure if I’ll finish it before it’s due, but I’m at 70% now and making decent progress forward. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner so no new progress there. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve been told it will make me never eat fast food again. Yay? My carpool buddy is back so we’re still working on  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I started a new book last night; A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I enjoyed the other Eggers book I read and this one sounds really interesting. It’s for my book club that doesn’t meet again until August so I’ll have some time to take it leisurely.

Recently finished: Two! I finished two! The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian was an audiobook and I really enjoyed it. I met Bohjalian a few weeks ago and found him inspiring. I’m glad I got to read this gem so soon. I also just finished O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn which was an ARC I won on First Reads. I wasn’t a huge fan, to be honest, but enjoyed the setting. I’ll work on a review in the next week or so. Also, I posted a review for The Language of Flowers which I’m sure will have a Book Club Reflection coming soon!

Reading Next:  I have one more ARC on my shelf to clear off which is The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. Kyle contacted me on my Facebook Fan Page and I’m so honored that he was the first to do so! I’ll be glad to get his book read this summer.

I’m hoping there will be some progress next week, too! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-June-2014

11 Jun

One down! But know I’m working on each of the other books; just not enough to finish any of them. I wish there was more to report for MizB’s WWW .

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson came in and I’ve been able to make more progress on it. I don’t think I’ll finish it again before it’s due, but I’ve made a lot of progress. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’m not sure how I picked such a cliffhanger of a stopping point but DANG. I can’t wait to keep going.  On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. My carpool buddy is on vacation so I’m plowing through this on my commute. I think I’m a little over half way and I’m loving it. Since carpool buddy is on vacation,  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is on hold this week. My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m only reading it at lunch so I’m making slow progress but I’ll take it on vacation this weekend and see what I can do. Yes, that’s right, I’m going on vacation! We’re taking the bus so I’ll have plenty of time to read.

Recently finished: With the push of having to make this update, I stayed up and finished reading my NaNo last night! Woooo. Nothing to add to my Goodreads challenge, but hey! I did review The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker but that’s all.

Reading Next:  As my book club doesn’t meet until August, I might have time for something in between. I want to concentrate on finishing O, Africa! next, but there could be one more ARC in line. On audio, I have Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on reserve at the library. Stay tuned!

Let’s see if I can finish my audiobook by next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-June-2014

4 Jun

SO MUCH PROGRESS!!! It feels good to participate in MizB’s WWW and be able to brag about it.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m making more steady progress on my NaNo. I’m about 3/4 of the way done with it and I’ve realized there’s a lot of filler I need to cut out. It will be an interesting revision process. I’m still on hold for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson but I am next on the list. I’ll start on The Maze Runner by James Dashner again this weekend. I bet I’m done with the next section by the time I report back.. On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. It was the first book on my long list that the library had in non-CD-but-still-audio form. Go figure. My carpool buddy and I are still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m not sure how I feel about it still and we go long times without listening to it so I’m not sure how long this will take! My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m still trying to figure out the voice of the narrator and it’s making it hard for me to get into, but I’m excited about something rooted in the 1920s!

Recently finished: Two! I finished two books! The first is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is for my informal work book club and I was the first to read it so I could pass it on. We’ll meet to discuss when the third woman has finished it. I also finished  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan on audio. This was for one of my book clubs as well and I liked it a lot. The writing was a good mix of scientific fact and memoir. Look for reviews soon.

I’ve posted a review for I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak yesterday. Enjoy!

Reading Next:  It’s going to be A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers for my ‘edgy’ book club. This book sounds really cool so I’m excited to get started on it!

My goal is to finish reading my NaNo in the next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!