The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

This is explicitly connected to A Visit From the Goon Squad, which I remember vaguely (I was in law school, what can ya do). I wonder if she was working on this all along, despite writing a traditional novel, Manhattan Beach, in between? It’s almost like two completely different writers. For this one, I feel like I need a chart to keep track of how all the characters are connected. Last time I made one of those was for The Tsar of Love and Techno.

It’s very much a novel about an issue, an idea, a sociocultural moment (social media and the attendant voluntary surrender of privacy). It’s not personal in the traditional way of being deeply felt by particular characters. Rather, there’s a wide web of characters, and we only get each one briefly (which of course is the nature of the issue she’s examining, as well as the format she’s using) but the snippets are so richly imagined that I feel invested, at least in most of them, and the mosaic produces a kind of lived, felt humanity I don’t see in, say, Eggers.

A book like this is never going to completely win my heart. But It was enjoyable to read, once I started to see what she was doing, and certainly an amazing technical feat.

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