Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Chapter 1

By Dave Eggers

Chapter 1

  • Our protagonist, Alan Clay, lands in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • We learn that he's there to pitch a holographic teleconferencing system (fancy) to King Abdullah (fancier), who's developing a new city in the desert (fanciest).
  • Alan suffers a bout of anxiety and self-doubt: He's kind of screwed up his life by making stupid decisions and always doing what was easiest.
  • And that's biting him in the butt right now. He's in massive debt from a failed business venture, his ex-wife plagues him, and he can't afford to send his daughter, Kit, to college.
  • If that's not enough, Alan also reflects on the bizarre suicide of his friend, Charlie Fallon, who drowned himself in a lake after a long romance with Transcendentalist writers.
  • He'd seen Charlie stepping in to the lake that day, but thought nothing of it. We get the sense that Alan carries a wee bit of emotional baggage because of this.