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Touch
Cover of Touch
Touch
Borrow Borrow
"[A] warm-hearted tale of a woman reconfiguring her priorities."—O Magazine

Belletrist's Book Pick for June
New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
Glamour, "The 6 Juiciest Summer Reads"
New York Post, "The 29 Best Books of the Summer"
Huffington Post, "24 Incredible Books You Should Read This Summer"
Buzzfeed, "22 Exciting Books You Need to Read This Summer"
Refinery 29, "The Best Reads of May Are Right Here"

From the author of the acclaimed I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, a satirical and moving novel in the spirit of Maria Semple and Jess Walter about a New York City trend forecaster who finds herself wanting to overturn her own predictions, move away from technology, and reclaim her heart.


Sloane Jacobsen is one of the world's most powerful trend forecasters (she was the foreseer of "the swipe"), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is over-populated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence.

So it's no surprise when the tech giant Mammoth hires Sloane to lead their groundbreaking annual conference, celebrating the voluntarily childless. But not far into her contract, Sloane begins to sense the undeniable signs of a movement against electronics that will see people embracing compassion, empathy, and "in-personism" again. She's struggling with the fact that her predictions are hopelessly out of sync with her employer's mission and that her closest personal relationship is with her self-driving car when her partner, the French "neo-sensualist" Roman Bellard, reveals that he is about to publish an op-ed on the death of penetrative sex—a post-sexual treatise that instantly goes viral. Despite the risks to her professional reputation, Sloane is nevertheless convinced that her instincts are the right ones, and goes on a quest to defend real life human interaction, while finally allowing in the love and connectedness she's long been denying herself.

A poignant and amusing call to arms that showcases her signature biting wit and keen eye, celebrated novelist Courtney Maum's new book is a moving investigation into what it means to be an individual in a globalized world.
"[A] warm-hearted tale of a woman reconfiguring her priorities."—O Magazine

Belletrist's Book Pick for June
New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
Glamour, "The 6 Juiciest Summer Reads"
New York Post, "The 29 Best Books of the Summer"
Huffington Post, "24 Incredible Books You Should Read This Summer"
Buzzfeed, "22 Exciting Books You Need to Read This Summer"
Refinery 29, "The Best Reads of May Are Right Here"

From the author of the acclaimed I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, a satirical and moving novel in the spirit of Maria Semple and Jess Walter about a New York City trend forecaster who finds herself wanting to overturn her own predictions, move away from technology, and reclaim her heart.


Sloane Jacobsen is one of the world's most powerful trend forecasters (she was the foreseer of "the swipe"), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is over-populated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence.

So it's no surprise when the tech giant Mammoth hires Sloane to lead their groundbreaking annual conference, celebrating the voluntarily childless. But not far into her contract, Sloane begins to sense the undeniable signs of a movement against electronics that will see people embracing compassion, empathy, and "in-personism" again. She's struggling with the fact that her predictions are hopelessly out of sync with her employer's mission and that her closest personal relationship is with her self-driving car when her partner, the French "neo-sensualist" Roman Bellard, reveals that he is about to publish an op-ed on the death of penetrative sex—a post-sexual treatise that instantly goes viral. Despite the risks to her professional reputation, Sloane is nevertheless convinced that her instincts are the right ones, and goes on a quest to defend real life human interaction, while finally allowing in the love and connectedness she's long been denying herself.

A poignant and amusing call to arms that showcases her signature biting wit and keen eye, celebrated novelist Courtney Maum's new book is a moving investigation into what it means to be an individual in a globalized world.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

    Copyright © 2017 Courtney Maum

    1.

    Sloane Jacobsen was living in a world without peanuts. As the Air France hostess busied herself in the first class cockpit tipping prosecco into plastic flutes, Sloane bemoaned the protocol keeping her from her favorite snack. Someone had an allergy—might have an allergy—so it was a no-go on all nut products. Normally, her future-focused mind would have started speculating—how would the normalization of food sensitivities impact consumer habits in the coming years? But instead, she just felt saddened that the current state of geo-politics expected people's worst. Someone might also use their wineglass to puncture the pilot's jugular so airlines had banned all drinkware made of glass, too.

    The stewardess, not French—Carly, read her nametag—served Sloane a drink along with a single slice of cucumber and a mauve wedge of something masquerading as foie gras. Yes, the world was a simpler, kinder place when Sloane could still eat nuts in public.

    She peered into the confines of the egg-shaped bunker where her companion, Roman, was reading an article in the travel section of a newspaper: The Mediterranean: Is there anywhere safe left to go?

    "Is there?" Sloane asked, toeing his heel to get his attention.

    "Is there what?" he said, looking at her through the eyeglasses he wore more for aesthetic reasons than anything having to do with sight.

    "Anywhere safe left to go?"

    "Oh," he said, giving the paper a shake so it stood with better posture. "Portugal, apparently."

    She scoffed. "But that's not in the Mediterranean."

    "That's true," Roman shrugged. "Then I guess not." He flipped the page over as if to inspect it. "It's not a very good article," he said, continuing to read it.

    Sloane reclined her seat and stared at the domed ceiling, beyond which was pure, unoxygenated sky. Flying wasn't easy when you were a trend forecaster. Sloane had a spongy sensitivity to her environment that only deepened when she flew. She felt itchy, ill-at-ease. It annoyed her, that article. Although she was in the business of looking for the next big things, it was nonetheless exhausting, the greed for the undiscovered, the novel, the new new. Lisbon wasn't "new" of course—it was one of the oldest cities in the world, predating even Paris—but it had been anointed by the Conde Nasters as the new Berlin.

    Sloane tried to calm herself, quell the negativity—she could watch a movie too. Given the excessive in-flight entertainment selection, she could watch anything she wanted. But she couldn't rid herself of a snaking anxiety. Something was wrong. Not wrong like the last time she'd been airborne, when she'd felt such a current of foreboding she wondered if "see something, say something" could include "getting a bad vibe," and thirty-three minutes into the flight plan, the plane was hit by lightening. It shook, it nosed. People screamed. It righted. No, this offness was nothing like that. This was internal, a mechanical error inside of her. She needed more vitamins, probably. Vitamin D.

    Beside her, Roman had given up reading about the travel impacts of the European debt crisis and was scrolling through the airline's film choices, his finger guiding him to 'New Releases'. Sloane knew with neon certainty that Roman would pick "Pitch Perfect 3." His Americaphilism was...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 3, 2017
    Maum’s trenchant satirical novel is about the intersection of modern technology and human interaction. Sloane Jacobsen, a highly influential trend forecaster who predicted the “swipe,” moves from Paris to Manhattan for a six-month collaboration with tech company Mammoth. Accompanying her is long-term life partner Roman Bellard, a Frenchman and Zentai-wearing intellectual obsessed with “sensuality in the digital age.” Sloane’s outspoken views on childbearing as ecoterrorism dovetail with her Mammoth assignment to guide product creation for the intentionally childless. Soon, though, she concludes that the next trend will be a return to intimacy and interpersonal, in-person interaction, so when Roman publishes a New York Times op-ed advocating virtual sex over real sex, she kicks him out. Meanwhile, her attempts at reconnecting with her estranged family are not going well, and a company designer attracted to Sloane challenges her to redefine herself. Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You), who also names products for MAC Cosmetics, has such a incisive grasp of where tech and culture meet that she could add sociologist to her resume. The book also captures the mid-life crisis of a woman at the top of her game, resulting in a perceptive, thought-provoking read.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2017
    A trend forecaster foresees a solution to the loneliness of this hyperconnected world.Sloane Jacobsen, -soothsayer of the swipe,- is a hugely successful trend forecaster, having been the one to predict the now-ubiquitous thumb-to-phone motion. She is the -uber anti-mom,- believing that having children is shortsighted in a world where people have been becoming ever more self-centered. For this reason, she has been hired as a consultant by Mammoth, a tech company focusing on consumer electronics and -human-machine integration technology,- to help them prepare for a three-day summit bringing together tastemakers from around the world to consider the theme of -ReProduction-: -What will we make when we stop making kids?- Flying from Paris, where she has been living since the death of her father many years before, to New York brings her closer to her estranged family, and something is nagging at her soothsaying abilities. Very much against the wishes of Mammoth, she cannot help put predict a return to human touch, a -turning against tech.- This is also in direct opposition to the beliefs of her life partner, Roman, a neo-sensualist who has his own prediction: that nonpenetrative, nontactile sex--i.e. a sex life lived online--is the future of sexuality. He has begun, more and more, to wear a Zentai suit, which covers his entire body in a thin layer of Lycra and fetishizes detachment by making true skin-to-skin touch impossible. This discord allows Sloane the space to fall for another Mammoth employee who agrees with her about the return of physical contact and demonstrates his support corporeally. It also allows her to reconnect with her family. While the novel is highly engaging in its representation of the confusing and addictive tech-oriented world we live in, the outcome is predictable and obvious and made more quixotic by a last-ditch dive into the mystical. The exploration Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, 2014, etc.) is conducting in this book, of human vs. machine, is best served not in the overreaching discussion of global trends but in the more nuanced moments in which Sloane aches to sort out her own feelings. An uncomplicated novel about the complicated relationship between humans and the tech-heavy world.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2017

    Renowned trend forecaster Sloane realizes that she cannot foretell her own future. A powerful woman with the uncanny ability to predict future trends, most notably the touch-screen swipe, Sloane has been hired by tech giant Mammoth to oversee its annual summit. This year's theme: ReProduction: "What will we make when we stop making kids?" Sloane, in a ten-year childless relationship, seems to be the perfect figurehead. Yet she foresees a backlash against technology and a desire for human interaction. Mammoth employees eagerly adopt her "new" ideas of leaving cell phones outside meetings and using a suggestion box. Instead of looking toward a future of empathy robots, people seek simple human interactions. Sloane herself craves the comfort of the family she pushed away as she deals with her Zentai-clad "neosensualist" partner Roman and his New York Times article on the end of penetrative sex. VERDICT Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You) perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our era as technology battles with humanity. Her thought-provoking, humorous book will inspire readers to forgo the electronics and get back to basics as simple as human touch.--Catherine Coyne, Mansfield P.L., MA

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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