Monday, December 20, 2010

Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne

A Novel Idea is an excellent program that is put on by the Deschutes Public Library. The selection for 2011 is Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne. The idea is to have the local community come together to read the book and participate in different programs. It culminates with the author speaking at the Tower Theater.

I checked out this book and didn’t touch it for 3 weeks. I didn’t know much more than it was set in New York City and I’m kind of burned out on books set there. However, this book, as the author calls it, is a “pre-9/11 novel.” Karim Issar arrives in NYC to briefly work for Schrub Equities to help prepare for the Y2K bug. Remember that?

Karim has to adjust to a new culture and also appears to be slightly autistic. He develops a computer program, which he calls Kapitoil, that has the potential to make a lot of money based on instabilities elsewhere in the world. He almost immediately gets the attention of the president of the company and then has to make choices about the ethical uses of his program. He is also juggling his social interactions with his co-workers and others as well as issues back home.

Karim carries a pocket recorder everywhere and later analyzes what people say to him. He tries to incorporate all the new idioms he hears. Here’s an example of his narrating about working on his program.

“I made some progress, and soon I forgot about my nervousness with Rebecca and reentered the world of programming where I have ultimate control, and I worked through the night in my office, and I remembered how enjoyable it is to concentrate on a project that stimulates me, and by the end of the night I had hurdled some obstacles and received encouraging results, and once I finalize my program and presentation I will propose the concept to Mr. Schrub. If he was impressed with me initially, then this will bowl him over.”

Once I started reading it, I did really like this book. It brings up issues about assimilation and staying true to your own values. I’m looking forward to the author’s visit and hope I can get tickets to the free event. Here’s a quote from the DPL website by the author about his visit.

“I look forward to my visit to Central Oregon with great anticipation, because, as a writer, I work in a vacuum. I mean that literally; I have repurposed an industrial-sized Hoover vacuum as my writing room. It’s drafty and dust-choked in here, and I expect my time in your city to be stiller and cleaner.”

I’m also interested to see what kinds of programs the library puts together. Will the focus be on New York City, the financial world, Qatar, assimilation, Islam or something else altogether?

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