A Satirist at Starline: Courtney Maum Chats About 'Touch'

Jun 17, 2017

Courtney Maum at Starline Books, signing copies of her novel Touch.

“Are we really done with windows?” asks one of the characters in Courtney Maum’s new novel Touch.

He’s not talking about the operating system.

“I mean the architectural component that lets in light,” he says. “I mean, if I have a window, then—and this is really modern—I can just look through it and decide all by myself how to dress. I don’t need my home automation system to send me a text.”

Touch takes place at a tech giant named Mammoth, where employees strive to devise the newest, hottest smart-what-nots... perhaps a home automation system so advanced that it knows the weather outside and can pick out your clothes for the day. Sloane Jacobsen, the protagonist, is a trend forecaster working for Mammoth. Her prediction: the next big tech trend will be rather Luddite-like. People will turn off their devices and rediscover real, human interaction.

And that’s something she herself desperately needs, considering her best friend is a robotic voice in a self-driving car, and her “neo-sensualist” boyfriend is refusing all physical intimacy. (He wears a skintight suit so no one can touch him, and he's recently decided cybersex fulfills him completely.)

The New York Times says Touch is “an exuberant satire of the culture of swipe,” and Oprah.com says it’s “a hilarious workplace send-up and warm-hearted tale of a woman reconfiguring her priorities.”

Courtney Maum spoke with WUTC’s Michael Edward Miller at Starline Books in downtown Chattanooga.