176 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: February 12, 2016
A bored twenty-three-year-old woman suddenly leaves her dull suburban job for L.A., becomes Internet-famous, and falls in love—Zelda to a semi-famous Scott.
One day, I was not famous, the next day, I was almost famous and the temptation to go wide with that and reject my past was too great. When I was legit famous, it was hard to tell when the change had occurred... If I had been born famous, the moment I would have started engaging in social media, I would have seen this fame, not the rise of it. But first I saw the low numbers, and later, the high ones.
Wryly mirroring the classic, female coming-of-age narrative, Natasha Stagg's debut traces a few months in the life of Colleen, a twenty-three-year-old woman with almost no attachments or aspirations for her life. Working at an unsatisfying mall job in Tucson, Colleen sleepwalks through depressing office politics and tiresome one-night stands in a desultory way, becoming fully alive only at night when she's online. Colleen attains ambiguous Internet stardom when she's discovered by Jim, a semi-famous icon of masculinity and reclusiveness.
When Colleen quits her job and moves to meet Jim in Los Angeles, she immediately falls in love and begins a new life of whirlwind parties and sponsored events. The pair's relationship, launched online, makes them the Scott and Zelda of their generation, and they tour the country, cashing in on the buzz surrounding their romance. But as their fame expands, Colleen's jealousy grows obsessive.
The new world is scary, mobile, and facile. Hysterical, clear-eyed, and radically precise, Surveys is the first real look at the new game of primate society we've created for the young. Natasha Stagg is, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, a truly killer writer.
Choire Sicha, author of Very Recent History
Surveys is a social tale on the infrastructure of our age. In a period when numbers are feelings and love is a coincidental encounter online. Stagg transfers changes the way we see ourselves and each other; she enlightens us to who we are.
Wise, wry levity. I always feel dry and light after reading her work. Which I love.
Casey Jane Ellison
Surveys is quick, brutal, and remarkably tender. Stagg's storytelling swells with uncanny, hyperreal insight.
Stagg's slim novel deftly explores the shifting landscape of celebrity through the story of a young woman's rise from obscurity to Internet stardom—the 'low numbers' to the 'high ones'—after an online flirtation with a semifamous social media personality.
New York Times Book Review
Stagg is a fearless writer, and she plays with stream of consciousness diatribes and obsessive inner thoughts to create a compelling and addictive story that explores contemporary understandings of jealousy and love through social media.
Bored of her life working in a Tucson, Arizona, mall, 23-year-old Colleen takes the life-changing plunge that so many millennials often consider—becoming an internet celebrity. Colleen posts updates about her life online, gaining followers and forming a double life teetering between young adult normalcy and the uncanny phenomenon of being sort of, kind of famous on the internet. The coming-of-age story offers a psychological dissection of the logic behind sharing your every thought with a mass of anonymous strangers, exploring the strange terrain where the personal and performative overlap and bleed into one another. Without altogether celebrating or condemning the contemporary obsession with online sharing, Stagg explores the roles we play and the selves we inhabit, online and IRL.
I had never read a good piece of fiction that featured internet culture as a predominant part of its plot until I read Surveys.