Sean Meriwether's Reviews > Being There

Being There by Jerzy Kosiński
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really liked it
bookshelves: book-becomes-movie, politics, books-to-survive-45

Chance is a handsome man with no background, identity, or exposure to the outside world except what he sees on TV, which informs him of every human interaction. He is an orphan who has been sheltered in his employer's garden his entire life, but is thrust into the world without any understanding of the complexities of human relationships, economics or politics. A serendipitous accident with a rich and well-connected woman, who is the first to make presumptions based on his looks and hand-tailored clothes, believes him to be a man of means and rescues him. She installs him in her home where her ailing husband is a business leader and king maker. This accident leads to a series of events in which Chance's opaqueness and blunt honesty ("I can't read. I don't write.") is consistently misinterpreted. He becomes Chauncey Gardiner due to a mishearing of "Chance, the gardener". He is a blank slate that others project the wisdom of economist, statesman, business leader, man of letters and lover upon; a mirror that reflect back only what they want to see. Their cumulative mistakes become self-enforcing. His very lack of background only confirms their belief that he is more than meets the eye.

This reminds me of the true story of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, who with her connections, an idea, and a dream was able to gain millions of dollars in funding for a product that didn't exist... her supporters wanted to believe and that was enough. So too, Chance rises from homeless introvert to potential US Vice President on the dreams of others. This satire was faithfully transferred to the screen with Peter Sellers in the title role.
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Reading Progress

November 18, 2019 – Started Reading
November 18, 2019 – Shelved
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: book-becomes-movie
November 18, 2019 – Shelved as: politics
November 21, 2019 – Shelved as: books-to-survive-45
November 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

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