This essay analyzes increasingly ubiquitous data collection and posits that metafiction is especially well suited to grapple with the significance of metadata and data surveillance, given its own preoccupation with watching itself watch. Making a critical intervention in the historically male-centered canon of US metafiction, Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) conscientiously engages the power relations of watching. In the background of the novel and at its chronological center are the 9/11 attacks and also, incidentally, the launch of the iPod. In a sense, these two events structure the novel’s investments in data surveillance. Moreover, to the extent that the novel’s form mirrors a musical album it also forms a network of characters, speaking to the constellation of forces that not only convert analog recordings into digital data, but also translate relationships, habits, and subjectivity into metadata.

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