** Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen


Book of Numbers is a very clever, ambitious novel stuffed with ingenious ideas and structure changes. To simplify (greatly!) it is the story of a ghost writer working on the biography of a high-tech titan, who, brilliantly, has the same name as the author. The penurious writer is swept up in splendor and secrecy to capture the career of an artful mix of Steve Jobs (mercurial behavior, health issues) at Google (search engine, big-brother tendencies), with some WikiLeaks threats thrown in.

The first few hundred pages are delightful: the book within a book is enticing and the author managed to capture the mania of high-tech companies very well. And then paranoia about the all-encompassing internet sweeps in, and the story gets, strangely, quite boring despite intense action and bad guys. One wishes the author could have stopped throwing so many features in that product.

(Note: In Silicon Valley it’s never the 101, just 101. So many details of technology companies and lingo are spot on, but not this one.)

 

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