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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Still Playing Forward: Jennifer Egan

Feel free to put today's post - detailing a now-obsolete dilemma - into the over-thinking bucket.

Three years ago, I was so blown away with Jennifer Egan's "A Visit From The Goon Squad" (2010) I could not stop raving about it. I blogged, I effused, I bought it as a holiday gift for several people. But I also avoided trying any of Egan's back catalog - didn't want to risk disappointment. See what I mean about over-thinking? Yet .. I'm guessing the more honest of you might admit having had a similar experience with an author.

"Look At Me" (2001) is not quite as dazzling as "...Goon Squad". But that's like saying "In My Life" is not quite as amazing as "If I Fell". When talking about craft at this level, who cares? This earlier novel is so rich with ideas, spectacular prose and memorable characters, saying what it's "about" feels superfluous. But for the record, it's a thriller, a meditation on identity, an exploration of the toxicity of celebrity. And it was so prescient about 21st century terrorism the author was obligated to add an afterword soon after its release. Read the middle of page 445, double check the copyright and try not to marvel at Egan's fertile imagination.

I'm now more convinced than ever that Egan belongs alongside Toni Morrison as a forward on an all star basketball team of contemporary authors. When you read her work please tell me if you agree.


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