UNI: “Everyone was asking us, like, Where were you girls during the entire month of January? You weren’t in the windowsill, you weren’t on Skype, we thought you were dead, jesus christ don’t scare us like that again. Sorry for the alarm! What happened is that we ‘discovered’ Evelyn Waugh for the first time, and basically fall into a deep and delicious Waugh-Hole that we’ve only recently climbed out of. Here’s the embarrassing fact: Initially we had somehow confused dear Evelyn with Edith Wharton, due to the shared initials…so when we thought of what a typical Waugh novel might be like, we pictured posh people with starched shirts, being all snooty and shit, fornicating with the help in big, bloodless mansions, which is probably not even what happens in a goddamn Edith Wharton novel, but we occasionally like to generalize in a highly ignorant manner. We had no idea that Evelyn Waugh was actually responsible for some of the most unbe-fucking-lievably dark satires ever penned in the 20th century, especially Handful of Dust, which is basically a sick comedy about cuckolding that ends with a poor bastard kidnapped and marooned in a sort of horror-movie scenario involving the collected works of Charles Dickens. Long story short: Our little four-pawed existences have been enlivened and forever changed by this manically creative motherfucker, who is unfortunately very dead by now, so we can’t interview him.”

Chloe: “Okay, so we actually haven’t read Ayn Rand, not that we can remember. And it’s been ages since we paged through Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. But damn, The Circle–the new Dave Eggers novel out later this month–reminds us of the idea of those books, except instead of bloody unhinged free-market capitalism or the importance of meat safety inspection laws, Eggers is getting on a soapbox of prose in order to deliver a lecture on personal privacy in an age of oversharing. We still haven’t figured out if this makes the novel an obnoxiously pedantic disaster or a fascinating, rousingly topical tale. Maybe both, at the same time? The basic plot involves a young lady who gets a job with a company that’s sort of a nightmarish amalgam of Google and Facebook–free vegan food in the cafeteria, yoga classes, a hoodie-wearing semi-autistic founder, etceteras. This company (the Circle) is intent on being a one-size-fits-all social network, and the young lady’s job involves being as connected as possible, to the point where she can barely take a shit if she doesn’t immediately tweet it. The novel becomes an epic battle of ideas, an ideological war between those who think the future means a secret-free utopia of 24/7 access, and those who think that such a future is actually a rotten, quasi-fascist nightmare. Dave Eggers is lucky though, since this book is coming out in the wake of the NSA scandals, in which President Obama was illicitly reading drunken sexts that humans were sending to each other within a 50 mile radius of Washington, D.C. This gives book critics a ‘peg’ to hang their reviews on, and The Circle certainly seems ripped from the headlines, as they say, but we can’t help thinking that it’s a bit too wooden: The corpse of a novel, trotted around, Weekend at Bernie’s-style, in order to enact a really powerful essay that was bouncing around in Mr. Eggers’s head.”

Uni: “Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There is a light summer diversion, but it’s a bit too light–basically a short story that just squeaks over into the novella category. It’s also heavy-handed and more than a little obvious. Our protagonist is Chance, a man raised by a rich benefactor and given no contact with the outside world. He tends a garden on the rich man’s grounds, and learns everything he knows from television. When he’s finally unleashed upon American society, Chance is misinterpreted as a savvy businessman and a political savant, his vague ramblings on ‘tending a garden’ mistaken for sage, metaphorical advice. MY advice? Skip this one and delve into Kosinski’s darker, weirder books, like Cockpit or Blind Date.”