A startling novel about modern technology and the loneliest number
The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim
by Jonathan Coe
$26.95 List Price
Painting a word-picture of a woman at a restaurant, the titular narrator of British author Jonathan Coe's new novel, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, writes, "She had long black hair, slightly wild and unkempt. A thin face, with prominent cheekbones." Prominent cheekbones? Just as the cliché meter is warming up, Max adds a parenthetical: "(Sorry, I am just not very good at describing people.)" This self-deprecation is enough to win us over, and it lets Max off the hook to unleash a few more lines of workmanlike, tentative details . . . prompting another aside: "(I am not very good at describing clothes either—are you looking forward to the next three hundred pages?)"
Max is that tricky creation: a nonwriter, with zero interest in books, who is writing his own story. (Told that he might broaden his horizons
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