Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 288 pages. $26 (hardcover).
I really need to figure out how to do cool book cover images on the blog.
I picked this book out because I’m looking for a fun, quirky novel to teach next year in my global literatures twentieth-century class. Plus, I’m a sucker for teal and guitars, so the cover helped. Yeah, I’m shallow like that.
This is a great book. I haven’t read anything by Egan before, so I had no idea what to expect as far as prose or themes go.
It’s about a music producer and his assistant, sort of. They are the main characters, but the novel weaves in and out through their lives and their back history and their future, so that by the end I didn’t feel like the two characters were connected at all. But that’s ok, and here’s why. Egan captures Life even though her characters are Larger than Life. She captures the ordinary struggles, emotions, thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears that all of us have, even though we might not be able to “relate” exactly with the characters. To me, that’s a huge feat.
The story is told in alternating narratives, from different points of view and in different formats. A little more than halfway through, the novel switches to powerpoint, an interesting narrative device and one that works in this context.
“Alternating narratives” is a technique that I love and one that can be very effective. Eighteenth-century epistolary novels and anything by Wilkie Collins are good early examples. I’m not sure how to do it in my own work yet, but I love reading novels that do it successfully.
If you’re looking for a fun yet thought-provoking quick read, I would recommend this book. Not sure if it will work on my syllabus