Mae Holland, a woman in her 20s, arrives for her first day of work at a company called the Circle. She marvels at the beautiful campus, the fountain, the tennis and volleyball courts, the squeals of children from the day care center “weaving like water.” The first line in the book is: “ ‘My God,’ Mae thought. ‘It’s heaven.’ ”
And so we know that the Circle in Dave Eggers’s new novel, “The Circle,” will be a hell.
The time is somewhere in the not-too-distant future — the Three Wise Men who own and rule the Circle are recognizable as individuals living today. The company demands transparency in all things; two of its many slogans are SECRETS ARE LIES and PRIVACY IS THEFT. Anonymity is banished; everyone’s past is revealed; everyone’s present may be broadcast live in video and sound. Nothing recorded will ever be erased. The Circle’s goal is to have all aspects of human existence — from voting to love affairs — flow through its portal, the sole such portal in the world.