The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'E-mail; A Love Story':
Reviewer Koos van den Hout wrote:
Having been in an Internet relationship myself I thought this book would be familiair but it's a bit of a soap story with electronic mail thrown in to make it more modern. All the intrigues of an affair of a married woman.
Reviewer amazon.com wrote:
With Internet romances being a hot topic for therapists, talk show hosts, and tabloid news, this novel should come as no surprise.
E-Mail: A Love Story is like being given someone's secret password and having access to all their private (and steamy) files. The
entire novel takes place on the Internet, starting with an innocent plea from our main character: "This is the first public post I have
ever made and I really don't know how this works. But, if you are willing, I would enjoy some correspondence." Katherine, a
44-year-old "domestic goddess," and soon-to-be empty nester, receives an overwhelming response to her polite request and is
immediately drawn into the world of intimate revelations and instant relationships that this faceless medium allows. What begins as
idle curiosity soon develops into an obsession, and "Katie" (as she is known online) is soon spending most of the hours of her day
juggling two virtual lovers who both want to move their relationships off the computer screen and into the physical realm. Are these
two men really who they say they are? Will her workaholic husband catch on? Will she leave him for one of her sexy new pen pals?
These are some of the questions that make this book an entertaining and unusual read, spilling the beans on the saucy world of
Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
The "stream of messages" style of story is gaining in popularity all
the time. This particular collection details a number of stories of
true limerence, that ephemeral infatuation that doesn't even make it
as high on the romantic scale as real lust.
As regards the technical details of computer mediated communications
(CMC: and the proposed term "telelogue" is looking better every time I
have to type that phrase), there really is not all that much to say.
We are told almost nothing about the LuxNet system itself, although
one can infer that it is a commercial system, rather than an ISP. One
can also infer that it is extremely small, given the fairly minimal
cast of characters, but I suppose we must allow the author some
license in order to allow for reasonable plot and character
development in a short space of time. Still, the lack of extraneous
noise is one aspect of online life that is not accurately reflected in
the book. There are others.
The plot is developed entirely by email and bulletin board postings.
The third major form, and the primary recreational form, of electronic
interpersonal communications; real time chat; is *not* used. There is
nothing analogous to IRC (Internet Relay Chat) nor the more structured
multiple user domains (MUDs). This may be a good thing, since only a
separator line distinguishes the email from the bulletin board
entries, and it is hard enough to keep track of which is which. (The
different separator lines are visually almost identical.) The lack of
consistency in message headers doesn't make the task any easier. The
three possible header lines are "To:", "From:", and a date/time stamp,
but any of these may be missing from a given message. Obviously it is
important to determine what is said publicly (on bulletin boards) as
opposed to what is said privately (in email), but such a judgment is
not always automatic in the text.
Graphics are sent by Kodak papers in the snail mail. Messages that
one wants to keep are printed out, rather than saved on disk. Data
security seems to be absolutely watertight: nobody sends messages to
the wrong person, nobody makes the mistake of publicly posting what
should have been private email, nobody notices online charges mounting
up, and nobody, on wide open home computers, finds any incriminating
Some of the anarchy of online discussions comes through. Some of the
panic of not being able to find an online friend (who may simply have
had better things to do than turn on the computer) is also present.
There are almost no misunderstandings, no flamewars, only one pest,
and only a single instance of the ubiquitous horny teenage boys that
clog online parties. (The proposition that pretty much all the males
in the book act like adolescents will be accepted, but I am talking
about the genuine, sex-fixated, semi-literate young nerds.) Unless
you count the resident Bible basher the system is singularly free of
the truly dangerous forms of online life.
The breadth of online life is missing. Nobody is here for purposes of
work, interest, or even recreation other than virtual groping. (OK,
the chaplain *does* manage to get off a few good cybersermons and a
bit of computer counselling.) We are limited to a select band of
electro-erotic explorers with no interconnections to a wider world.
And our select band is not exactly simpatico. Not that the characters
are not attractive. (Although I never liked Cliff right from the
start.) Aside from being prime candidates for the Darwin awards (that
is, they are all terminally stupid), the characters are all nice,
normal, mostly suburban human beings. Their obsessions are all
terribly mild. A little dirty typing, a few pieces of amateur
pornography sent back and forth, no grand passions. A sort of white
bread and American cheese neurosis. Ultimately there are no
repercussions, either. I've cheated on you virtually, you've cheated
on me in RL, well we'll just chalk it up to experience and take off
for the summer place for a nice family vacation. Thanks for the
advice, Padre. (Actually, I find him the most sinister one of the
whole bunch. I've met others of his ilk who get to like the status as
head of an online flock and rule over them as a kind of cherubic
The exploration of virtual infidelity is pretty weak. Although there
are intimations that online romances detract from real live intimacy,
the proposal is not made forcefully. The thesis is two dimensional at
best, and not examined in interesting ways or any depth.
Real online devotees might get a bit of a giggle: newcomers will get a
fairly unrealistic picture of life online.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998
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