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Books of the Year 2017 – A Literary Advent Calendar – Scottish Review of Books

The Secret Life

Andrew O'Hagan
Format: Hardback Pages: 272 pages Publisher: Faber & Faber Publication Date: 08/06/2017 Category: True stories ISBN: 9780571335848
by SRB

Books of the Year 2017 – A Literary Advent Calendar

December 19, 2017 | by SRB

We’ve asked Scotland’s leading writers, booksellers, festival directors and critics to pick one, or two, books — published this year or in the past — that they most enjoyed reading in 2017. There will be new selections every day until 21 December — so keep reading for great ideas about what to read next and visit your nearest high street bookshop to purchase your Christmas gifts! Nick Major takes us forward on 19th December.

NICK MAJOR, journalist 

Andrew O’Hagan’s essays have always been written with the same measured thoughtfulness as his novels. The Secret Life (Faber, £14.99), his triptych of essays from the ‘wild west’ of the Internet, is a bracing account of what cyberspace has done to our sense of self. We need writers like O’Hagan to ask the important questions about our new bright-lit digital lives. We stare into our computer screens all day, but ‘what have we been looking for? Is it lively there? And have we grown addicted to untruth?’ The stories of his time spent shadowing Satoshi Nakamoto – the purported inventor of Bitcoin – and Julian Assange are extreme examples of who we become online – elusive figments of our own imaginations. But the standout essay is “The Invention of Ronald Pinn”. O’Hagan took a name from a gravestone and built a second life for the deceased on the Internet. The moral implications are both astounding and unnerving.

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