- HAMISH HAMILTON
- General fiction
THE TERRIBLE PRIVACY OF MAXWELL SLIM
Maxwell Sim can't make a meaningful connection. His absent father is preoccupied with poetry; he maintains an e-mail correspondence with his estranged wife under a false identity; his daughter prefers her BlackBerry to his conversation; and his best friend won't return his calls. He has seventy friends on Facebook, but nobody to talk to.
Max tries to stir himself out of this rut by quitting his job to accept a strange business proposition: to drive a Prius full of toothbrushes from London to the remote Shetland Islands in a misguided promotional campaign for a dental-hygiene company. Instead, he makes a series of awkward, cruelly enlightening visits to figures from his past, falling in love with the soothing voice of his GPS system ('Emma' ) en route. Eventually he comes to wonder if perhaps it's his utter lack of self-knowledge that's hampering his ability to form actual relationships.
Jonathan Coe outdoes himself with this humane satire and modern-day picaresque, a gently comic and rollickingly entertaining story about personal attachments in the digital welter of instant communication.