The Books

Doug Unplugged

by Dan Yaccarino

One Potato Review

Looking for the needle in the digital haystack. Doug is actually a robot, but he may as well be a flesh-and-blood child sent back from the future, tethered every morning to a seemingly infinite database while his parents are off at work. “They love their little robot and want him to be the smartest robot ever,” writes Yaccarino, mining fertile territory with typically disarming cheer. Doug inevitably flies the coop, still it’s not like he was ever miserable to begin with. There are some plenty enjoyable factoids here all by themselves: 750,000 manholes in New York City, 14,000 tons of trash thrown out each day, half a billion pigeons, 468 subway stops – and though not a one can replace the sensation of plunging beneath the ground to catch a train, or the view from the top of a skyscraper, or the cooing of a single bird, context works both ways: it helps to know what you are looking for sometimes so it can surprise you. Thoughtful beyond its goofy appearances. Yaccarino at his best.

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