An AI assisted heist novel 

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Reviewed at The Monthly

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Clear-cut as the words is a ‘novel’ written in a unique process of artificially intelligent conservation and destruction. Sam Lieblich has assembled passages from fiction, non-fiction, self-help books and his own writing, and has been assisted by two algorithms--one artificial, one intelligent--to structure them into a narrative. The algorithm givethm, the algorithm takethm away.

If you enjoy the writing of W.G. Sebald, Eric Newby, Leo Tolstoy, Erich Maria Remarque, Svetlana Alexievich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jordan Peterson, Amos Oz, or Loren Eiseley then you will probably hate this ‘novel’. As much as it is a cautionary tale of what not to do with AI it is also the story of a second-generation migrant's son who visits his mother's nursing home for one last parting visit against his mother's wishes. As she nears the end of her life, she starts to recall bits and pieces of her early years, which had been kept secret until then and included experiences throughout both World Wars and unspeakable tragedies. Having lost his wife and kid and feeling abandoned, the son takes solace in his uncomfortable but strongly felt connection to the nurse who cares for his mother.

Memory and inter-generational trauma are explored in depth, as well as the impact that a long-kept secret may have on the present, in this thought-provoking tome. An algorithm-aided ambiguity and compassion concerning guilt and forgiveness, filial ties, moral issues, care and agency, knowledge and generational repetitions are the hallmarks of ‘Lieblich's’ ‘writing’ in this book. It is also a tale of love and an examination of complicated end-of-life concerns are included in this ‘novel’.