RaveBookforum...excellent ... This is not a book with an accompanying TED Talk, a ten-step program, or One Weird Trick to Fix Everything. Seymour’s pose here is that of a working analyst, not a confident diagnostician. He draws connections, he sketches notes toward a further diagnosis. You can imagine him steepling his fingers and saying, his brow a bit furrowed, \'Isn’t it interesting that . . . \' or \'You seem very upset about . . . \' He deploys journalistic narrative and empirical data, but in general writes with a dense, aphoristic energy ... What if the urge lurking behind our compulsive participation in the Twittering Machine is not the behavioralist pursuit of maximized pleasure, but the Freudian death drive—our latent instinct toward inorganic oblivion, destruction, self-obliteration, \'the ratio\'? What if we post self-sabotaging things because we want to sabotage ourselves? What if the reason we tweet is because we wish we were dead?
PositiveNew YorkLurking is an impressionistic chronicle ... a history that illuminates ongoing debates and opens up interesting new questions about how we understand the industry and the technologies that have taken over the world ... If there’s a through line in McNeil’s book, it’s ironically that \'lurking\'—that fundamental online activity—is no longer really possible ... If we’re going to recover the fully human lurker from the prepackaged and surveilled \'user,\' histories like these will be essential.
MixedBookforum... an appealing primer for people who haven’t closely followed the emergence online of a disturbingly influential Far Right reaction, and if nothing else readers will come away knowing the names and strategies of some of the best-known trolls of the past three or four years. But I’m not sure they’ll have a better sense of what’s gone wrong, or how to put it right again ... As a reporter, Marantz is one of the best on this beat, and here he delivers a well-observed, crowd-pleasing scene report and fine introduction to the \'metamedia insurgents\' who flit in and out of the book ... the problem is not really that Marantz is playing to an older, establishment-oriented audience. It’s that he’s adopted that audience’s most dubious presuppositions: that the allure of right-wing politics lies naturally in their transgressive thrill, or that the media establishment of the late twentieth century was flawed but preferable to the very different and \'incomparably worse\' media environment in which we now live ... These are live issues, about which an enormous amount has been written. Marantz skates by, assured that his audience agrees with the tragic story of the assassination of noble gatekeepers by the coward internet ... The result is a book filled with fine, conscientious, careful reporting in service of only the flimsiest of organizing political or philosophical principles ... In fairness, I don’t myself have a clear, actionable answer to the problems people like Enoch and Samantha pose. But I increasingly suspect that psychological portraiture of the radicalized and alienated may not be particularly useful for developing one ... Profile writing can be useful to the extent that it reveals something larger about the world in which the subject lives; but what Marantz’s profiles often reveal is how unimportant his subjects are as individual humans or characters ... Where Marantz focuses on the attention-seeking bluster of individual personalities, acting within a predetermined framework of fading institutions and cool-kid transgressors, Bernstein and Gais methodically document the close ties between wealthy donors, right-wing extremists, mainstream conservatism, and popular media outlets. These pieces are valuable because they reveal the wealthy, organized structures of reaction lurking behind the myths of social platforms as free marketplaces of ideas. It’s hard to maintain the fiction that there is an opposition between gatekeeping institutions and gate-crashing extremists when you read the emails between them.
PanBookforum\"Whatever else you might say about Frey, he possesses in spades the key quality for success in the twenty-first century: shamelessness ... Henry Miller is the clear inspiration, but the sex in Katerina reminded me less of Tropic of Cancer and more of the scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin in which Steve Carell’s character tries to bluff his way through a conversation about women by comparing breasts to bags of sand. Where Miller was, at the very least, inventively crude, Frey is artificial and bland ... Frey clearly wants you to read this soliloquy as an earnest challenge he’s offering himself in real life. If it is, Katerina is a particularly damp response. But I’m not sure I can give him even that much credit. It’s hard to imagine that Frey genuinely believes the story of a young man and his model girlfriend screwing in Paris will \'burn the world down.\' But someone with experience in the publishing industry, and with producing young-adult fiction, might recognize that a melodramatic and slightly seedy romance with a tinge of newsy metatextual frisson is an eminently marketable book ripe for a Hollywood studio to option ... It’s possible that Katerina is an utterly heartfelt novel, and that Frey is an authentically inept writer, rather than a calculatingly bad one. But how could anyone tell? When you build a career as a cynical fraud, even your incompetence becomes suspicious.\
PositiveVICE\"...O\'Connell\'s book is at its best when he\'s rendering funny and sympathetic portraits of the would-be immortals and other quasi-religious oddballs he met and spent time with in the US and Europe ... O\'Connell is a charming, funny tour guide. Writing on transhumanism often gets swept away by the inherent drama of its adherents\' promises, but O\'Connell\'s eye for small human details keeps the narrative grounded in a way that rigorous scientific debunking wouldn\'t ... If I have a complaint about O\'Connell\'s book, it\'s that it doesn\'t turn its eye often enough toward money.\