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Facebook: the book review

by Archives April 1, 2008

For every generation, there is a defining novel.
A work of such enduring sensitivity that it captures all the concerns and ills of the decade’s youth. In the ’50s, it was J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. In the ’70s, it was Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In the ’90s, it was Douglas Coupland’s Generation X.
The 21st century has many claimants to the throne, but so far none have measured up.
The latest contender is titled Facebook. A collaborative hodge podge of stories by various authors, Facebook is the biggest literary phenomenon since J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. An ambitious work, the massive page-turner attempts to document the lives of thousands of characters.
Readers can follow the adventures of people like Karine ‘Kaka’ Lagacé, a 21-year old graphic design major from Pierrefonds. An avid Methodist, she enjoys motocross, the Beatles and spinach croquettes. On Monday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., she can be found practicing sun salutations at Bikram Yoga on Saint-Mathieu Street. Her address is 6760 Saint-Vallier, and her cell phone number is 514.991.4386.
The book’s characters all know each other through six degrees of separation, although they are not always aware of it. Together, the authors developed an immersive world rich with drama.
On a more serious note, there are documented reports of nervous breakdowns associated with Facebook. Dr. Lester Burgess, director of McGill University’s psychology department, claims that some symptoms approximate the withdrawal pains experienced by recovering drug users.
“The hold that Facebook has over some patients is alarming,” he said in an interview yesterday.
“People come to think of the characters as their friends and invest themselves so heavily into the book that they stop calling others in real life.”
Seventeen-year old Talia Lefort knows the feeling. “Facebook? More like Crackbook,” she said. The young fan confirmed the growing craze among her friends, many of whom read Facebook in class.
One student, who did not wish to be named, said, “It’s the first thing I reach for when I get home; I can’t stop facing the book.”
The book’s popularity aside, Facebook offers little in terms of competition for the literary classics of yore. Although punctuated by dramatic moments, the stories often lack dimension and the characters eventually become parodies of themselves.
For all its possibilities, Facebook simply lacks a clear storyline. The book presents a constellation of characters who whine, rejoice or commiserate over the day’s remains, but never embark on anything proactive.
The book does not encapsulate a sense of today’s youth, nor does it reveal an unexpected truth. Instead, it presents an endless procession of beer bongs, clubbers and descriptions of half-naked 14-year-olds.

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