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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Stay This Day and Night
With Me

Belén Gopegui

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To purchase Stay This Day and Night With Me

Title: Stay This Day and Night With Me
Author: Belén Gopegui
Genre: Novel
Written: 2017 (Eng. 2023)
Length: 191 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Stay This Day and Night With Me - US
Quédate este día y esta noche conmigo - US
Stay This Day and Night With Me - UK
Stay This Day and Night With Me - Canada
Quédate este día y esta noche conmigo - España
from: Bookshop.org (US)
directly from: City Lights
  • Spanish title: Quédate este día y esta noche conmigo
  • Translated by Mark Schafer

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting approach re. contemporary techno-capitalism

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
El País . 26/9/2017 Carlos Pardo
Publishers Weekly . 27/12/2022 .
Wall St. Journal . 14/4/2023 Sam Sacks

  From the Reviews:
  • "Gopegui leavens the high-mindedness with a cool sense of irony, and shines with her succinct insights on the similarities between humans and AI (“health apps that turn people into toasters”). Readers will be intrigued." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Stay This Day and Night With Me takes the form of a job application submitted to techno-giant Google (now Alphabet). It is not you usual job application, in several ways, including that it is by two people rather than an individual and it does not include a résumé (or two), or indeed reveal much about the applicant(s') qualifications. It is also some 50,000 words long -- and was submitted in paper form (rather than the now usual and expected digital form). Most significantly, the application is basically presented as a narrative -- a story.
       As Olga explains, they're thinking (and acting) outside the box, a small gesture meant to shake things up:

     It's possible Google won't listen; it's possible it won't do anything. But everything here won't continue as usual. We're breaking the contract, we're overriding Google's authority to pick the terms of that contract.
       Besides the application-text, the novel also includes three brief chapters written by the assessor, Google-employee Inari, who explains why s/he has accepted the application and thinks it is worth considering.
       The applicants sign themselves Mateo and Olga. Mateo is a twenty-two-year-old student who previously began the application-process for Google's Singularity University but did not complete it. Olga is sixty-two and a mathematician, "one of the first in her country to launch business dedicated to the construction of models used to forecast future outcomes in a range of scenarios" (though her success with these seems to have been limited, with her having nearly gone bankrupt twice).
       Olga first encounters Mateo in a library. She recognizes mutual interests and lends him some books, and they get to talking -- and soon meet regularly. They are both interested in: "mathematical models, and ways to attempt to make predictions" -- and are concerned about what will be possible in the future, wondering, as Olga does:
What will happen the day Google, or any other company, doesn't process just searches and texts but also genomes and memories ? I know there will always be disturbances, shifts in trajectory that complicate predictability. I know there will always be noise, exceptions. We'll never be able to to know where you'll be in five years, but the very idea that the margin of error could be reduced will shift how we think about ourselves.
       They discuss both the philosophical implications of Google's incredible reach -- in particular, the question of free will -- as well as the social implications, considering also their different class backgrounds and opportunities. While occasionally addressed directly at Google -- "What could Mateo tell you to get you to admit him ?" --, the bulk of the story revolves around the relationship between Olga and Mateo, as they speak about, rather than to Google (among other, if generally related subjects). A routine of sorts develops between them, each clearly finding in the other a conversation-partner different from the others in their lives. Olga has a far-away son, and Mateo gets a girlfriend and has parents to deal with, but apparently neither has someone with whom to discuss these particular issues.
       Young Mateo worries about the futility of this application-approach -- tempted then to send a much more basic but certainly attention-getting message to Google. Olga, meanwhile, sees the time for action winding down, at least for her: "I don't have much time. [...] I'll be leaving very soon".
       For Gopegui, Google is a modern version of the anonymous mega-corporation for whom workers are mere cogs. The modern, technology-focused corporation is a more refined version, in some ways -- workers are not seen as identical and robot-like, but rather known and 'understood' by the machine that is the corporation in every last detail, for example and, significantly, the overlap between workers and consumers is almost complete -- but the vision of a too-powerful and controlling technologically- (rather than humanly-) based entity is the same. Olga and Mateo's concerns are those shared by many in a world that has become (and/or made itself) increasingly technology-reliant.
       Gopegui addresses this situation in a fairly interesting way -- not least with the human element at Google, in the form of Inari, who certainly pays some attention to the text s/he's dealing with. With recent advances in Artificial Intelligence, Stay This Day and Night With Me nevertheless already feels slightly dated -- in part also because Gopegui only takes Mateo and Olga's concerns about Google and its power and reach so far, when she easily could have taken them much, much further. The fact that it's never clear whether or not Mateo and Olga are 'real', or merely characters the writers of the application invent, or at least re-shape, to make their case is also a double-edged approach that seems to undermine their case against Google as much as it makes it -- not least because they (intentionally) only reveal so much about each, leaving them less than entirely fully-realized characters.
       It's an interesting idea, and quite well presented, but does fall short of its potential.

- M.A.Orthofer, 23 April 2023

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Stay This Day and Night With Me: Reviews: Belén Gopegui: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Spanish literature under review

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About the Author:

       Spanish author Belén Gopegui was born in 1963.

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© 2023 the complete review

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