Study Guide

A Hologram for the King Chapter 18

By Dave Eggers

Chapter 18

  • It's getting pretty nihilistic up in here. Alan and the crew head back to Jeddah after another meaningless day of waiting in the desert.
  • He wanders around the hotel for a while, not really sure how to kill time (remember, there are no bars in Saudi Arabian hotels).
  • So of course he heads back to his room to drink up Hanne's moonshine and maybe take another stab at writing a letter to his daughter.
  • He wants to tell her that everything will be alright. He especially wants to tell her that he slayed in Saudi Arabia and she can go right back to college.
  • But all of these things are lies, which just makes his attempt at letter writing quite sad.
  • This leads him down a sharp shame spiral: If only he'd saved more, invested better, not made so many stupid decisions…
  • We learn that Alan had tried to build his own bike and market it. It had been a disaster.
  • The problem wasn't the prototype of the bike. It had been beautifully designed. The problem? People like Alan had made American manufacturing obsolete.
  • And Alan's father had no problem rubbing salt in the wound. He already had a lot of contempt for his son's role in the offshoring of manufacturing.
  • Alan also couldn't get financing for his project because he'd had a teensy hiccup with his credit. A misunderstanding with a store credit card had destroyed his credit score.
  • He couldn't resolve this credit problem because 'bots rule the world. After that, he couldn't qualify for a legit bank loan.
  • At this point, Alan's pretty hammered in his hotel room. And that's when Hanne calls to invite him to a party at the Danish embassy.
  • She promises him that his drunkenness will be an asset at this gathering.