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Summary

Summary

A fast, funny, deeply hilarious debut-- The Glitch is the story of a high-profile, TED-talking, power-posing Silicon Valley CEO and mother of two who has it all under control, until a woman claiming to be a younger version of herself appears, causing a major glitch in her over-scheduled, over-staffed, over-worked life.

Shelley Stone, wife, mother, and CEO of the tech company Conch, is committed to living her most efficient life. She takes her "me time" at 3:30 a.m. on the treadmill, power naps while waiting in line, schedules sex with her husband for when they are already changing clothes, and takes a men's multivitamin because she refuses to participate in her own oppression.

But when she meets a young woman also named Shelley Stone who has the same exact scar on her shoulder, Shelley has to wonder: Is she finally buckling under all the pressure? Completely original, brainy, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Glitch introduces one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction and offers a riotous look into work, marriage, and motherhood in our absurd world.


Author Notes

ELISABETH COHEN majored in comparative literature at Princeton University and her work has appeared in Conjunctions, The Mississippi Review, The Cincinnati Review, McSweeney's Online and The Millions. She has an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and an MLS from the University of Maryland. She worked as a librarian before her current career as a technical writer. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and two sons.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Shelley Stone is a force of nature in the world of wearable tech. She has worked hard to get to CEO, and everything in her life is just as she likes it two children (one carried by a gestational carrier), me time at 3 a.m., regularly scheduled sex, vacations in France (working vacations, natch). It could be said that it was a force of nature that made her the person she is today: she was struck by lightning as a young woman. She credits this one-in-a-million event with her success. But as the twentieth anniversary of the lightning strike approaches, strange things begin to happen. Her four-year-old daughter goes missing and is found by a stranger who seems to have an agenda. Then a young woman appears who is the spitting image of herself before the strike, who may even be a young Shelley. Is she having a breakdown? Is she being blackmailed? Is she really living the life she wants? Part techno-thriller, part techno-satire, Cohen's debut is a funny, engaging read.--Platt, Diana Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In her witty debut, Cohen follows Shelley Stone, a high-powered, perfect-on-paper lightning-strike survivor and married mother of two whose life gets a bug in it. The CEO of Conch, which developed a behind-the-ear personal assistant, is the perfect corporate shill, calculating, artificial, and always on message, even when things start going wrong. Her four-year-old disappears from the beach while she and her husband take business calls; when she bizarrely meets someone who seems to be her 20-years-younger self, she advises young Shelley to take more coding classes but never mentions the lightning to come. When the media reports that a man killed himself because his Conch nagged him into it, her approach remains transactional. She's on point whether she's working toward a corporate merger or in marriage and motherhood, even as her husband begins suggesting a more balanced approach. Cohen's novel premise and lead character-so incredibly well-drawn in her singlemindedness-are almost enough to sustain the story. But as the glitches in Shelley's life begin to pile up, the author loses control of the narrative. By the time she wrests it back, the reader may wonder if a reboot along the way might have worked better. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

DEBUT Shelley Stone is the CEO of Conch, a tech company that makes wearable personal assistants (think Alexa crossed with Bluetooth). She's very committed to her job and never loses an opportunity to work, having perfected the art of time management and efficiency. She is also a mother of two and married to the similarly driven Rafe. While vacationing in France, Shelley and Rafe lose sight of their young daughter Nova-they both were on business calls when Nova wandered away. Before they descend into full-blown panic, a stranger calls. He has found Nova and can return her to them. This event starts a string of unexpected glitches in Shelley's well-organized life. As she faces increased pressure at work, Rafe questions their demanding lifestyle and proposes dramatic changes. To top it all off, -Shelley encounters what appears to be a younger version of herself. VERDICT As an updated version of Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It for our hyperconnected tech age, this debut novel is funny and smart with an appealing, driven protagonist. [See Prepub Alert, 8/27/17.]-Lynnanne -Pearson, Skokie P.L., IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

In the bedroom, before I fell asleep, I took out a notebook and wrote down a list of the things I wanted to tell her. These were things that seemed harmless enough not to upset the broad scheme of her life, but that might make a significant difference in retrospect. I took out a yellow legal pad and drafted a list:        1. If you ever get a gooey eye, don't mess around, see a doctor, even if your schedule is packed.      2. Please don't ever not use condoms. Please keep in mind that it is your own older and wiser self telling you this. It's not propaganda.      3. Try running--you will like it. Has Pilates been invented yet? Do that. I wish you would pay attention to your laterals. Stay fit. Keep in mind that it will reduce cellulite acquisition.      4. When Grandma gives you a Krugerrand for your twenty-first birthday, have Dad put it in his safe deposit box because you will lose it, I promise you.      5. The stock market goes way up in 1999. But get out of tech by July 2000.      6. As discussed, keep wearing your retainer.      7. Sunscreen (60+) and remove makeup every night.      8. Brush up on multiple regressions before the departmental comprehensive senior year. But don't freak out--you pass.      9. Try to maintain good sleep habits. I'm not sure this is possible. But try.      10. Start working on your Mandarin tones.      11. I'm giving you a list of big IPOs--see if you can invest early in any of them. They're not going to let you in easily so show some hustle. Also, these are some great companies for a first job.      12. Remember you won't always have the time you have now, so this is the time to learn Arabic.      13. Remember that greatness is difficult but worth it.      14. There will be plenty of time for boys/men/romance/dating once you're a VP. There's no point before then.      15. Remember, with men, the key quality you need is that they'll put your career first, since it's hard to both be extremely ambitious.      16. But men who don't want to be #1 aren't going to be exciting enough for you.      17. I haven't figured out how to reconcile those two either, but maybe you can.      18. Having a killer work ethic is worth more than riches.   I sighed, looking it over. It seemed paltry. "Things are often for the best," I added encouragingly. "And when they're subopti­mal you can work to improve them." I wondered if I should say something to her about Rafe. "Keep an eye out for a tall, dark, handsome stranger"? If a man comes up to you at a party and puts his hand on your arm and asks you whose party it is, tell him, but when it turns out he's supposed to be at a different party, celebrating the launch of a different com­pany's product, try to get him to stay with you instead. Although I hadn't needed to be told. I had done it without any prior warn­ing. I had even incentivized him to stay by filching him drink tickets. He'd come up to ask me a question, but I just liked the way he looked. That's so superficial, but you know, product packaging totally affects your user experience, and I found him enticing, almost uncomfortably so. It was uncharacteristic of me to flirt, but it had happened. Maybe I just needed to make sure she went to that party that night. I hesitated. If I'd known it was going to be such an impactful night, I don't know if I would've handled it so well. I wouldn't have felt so free. There's irony there, in that I've often thought about how, if Rafe had been wearing a Conch that night and had its reliable direction-giving at his disposal, he never would have ended up at my party at all. That bothers me, that I'm helping people operate more smoothly and arming them with the information they need, but sometimes users are going to miss out too. I wasn't sure what to tell her. But if she met someone else, there would be no life with Rafe. What about Nova and Blazer? I felt a pang, thinking of a world in which they didn't exist. Though Blazer didn't exist eleven months ago, in current form, and I hadn't known what I was missing. And should I say something about the lightning? Yes. No. I touched the scar on my abdomen and trailed my fingers across my body. The list was missing the one thing that really mattered. When it's a rainy night, and you are with a friend, don't go out­side and sit on an aluminum cooler during a thunderstorm. I hesitated. I let my mind skate over the memory, very lightly: the pain, the feeling of tight burned skin, the heavy shuffle of my useless left leg, the boring grid of squares on my hospital room ceiling, the agony of lying in bed and hearing distant thunder as summer arrived and departed outside my hospital window. The Spanish soap opera I watched, every day, gradually gaining a sense of its meaning the way you wriggle on a very tight-fitting turtleneck. The endless hours of loneliness, lying immobilized, with only my laptop for company. It had been awful. I couldn't tell her. But when it did happen, when she was lying on the ground, flattened by the surge, would she think of me and wonder why I hadn't? In the days afterward, when she was suffering in the wheeled bed, would knowing I hadn't spared her make it worse? Could it have been any worse? I thought of her--guileless, unafraid, Nova-ish in her contrar­ianism and curiosity. It was too bad. It was really a shame. But if she didn't go through the experience, awful as it was, she would not become me. It had been difficult, and yet it had been . . . I prompted myself to finish. Worth it. Hadn't it been? I could not quite say that, even to myself. But this was how it had to be, and difficult calls are difficult; that's why they are difficult calls. Doesn't mean you shouldn't make them, or that you are wrong. I tore the page off the pad, folded the paper over and creased it, and put it on the desk. This was an interesting development. It was unusual. It could be an edge. How could I use it? Excerpted from The Glitch: A Novel by Elisabeth Cohen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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