Tuesday, August first, 2006
Tristram is born, maimed and misnamed; and I am lapping the reading group. So let's leave him to his own devices a little while, when A White Bear puts up her Volume II post I will return there. In the meantime: this weekend I read a book review that interested me very strongly. So today, when Jennifer Egan's The Keep was published, I went by Coliseum Books and picked it up. (I believe it is the second book I have ever bought on the day of its publication, the other one was Mason & Dixon.)
Started the book on the way home and am being blown away by it. Funny, this is the second book I've read recently in which the protagonist is just my age. (The other was Absurdistan.) This is giving me a funny sense of generational presence that I have not felt before. (Note -- Shteyngart is indeed my coeval; Egan is a couple of years older than I.)
Ellen read Egan's Look at Me previously, and doesn't remember much about it except that she loved it, and thinks she has it around the house.
Wednesday, August second, 2006
I am ripping my way through The Keep -- it is utterly mesmerizing reading. Danny's paranoia and half-hearted fight against same has me nodding in sympathy; I'm anxious to find out what links his story up with Ray his author's.
Thursday, August third, 2006
I finished The Keep this morning on the way in to work; and let me just say: wow. What a perfectly crafted book this is. I want very much to read more by Egan -- I am going to lean on Ellen about finding her copy of Look at Me. And hope she writes more novels soon.
So Bookslut (in the person of Maureen McClarnon) thinks The Keep would be a better book without the final chapter. And I can sort of see where Ms. McClarnon is coming from -- the end of Chapter 15 would make an excellent book ending. And 16 takes the book off in a new direction. But, well, I like the new direction. I've been wanting throughout the first 15 chapters to learn more about Holly. I'm glad 16 is in there.
On the train this evening I took a look back at Chapter 1 and was shocked all over again, at what a beautiful piece of writing this is. The structure of the whole book is contained in the first chapter, in amazingly compact miniature. Ray's first intrusion into the narrative -- wow! Also -- I looked through the book and realized that there really is not a lot of space devoted to Ray's story; it stands out in an exaggerated way, in my memory of the book.
Sunday, August 6th, 2006
On Wednesday the 23rd at 8, Jennifer Egan will be reading from The Keep at Rocky Sullivan's, 28th and Lexington. If you're interested in meeting up there, drop me a line.
Monday, August 14th, 2006
This morning I started Look at Me by Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep. I'm happy to say it is living up to my expectations so far -- beautiful prose and character development with occasional surprising insights.
Tuesday, August 15th, 2006
I am reading Look at Me [SPOILERS FOLLOW] voraciously. Constantly adjusting my perspective as I read it, at times I am perched above the story looking down into it and thinking about its structure, frequently I am drawn down into the guts of it -- when Charlotte made her plan to get Anthony to start drinking again, I reacted with a wave of visceral disapproval; but when Charlotte made her suicide attempt I was only very marginally with her, thinking more about what would happen in the story around this event.
A note about Look at Me -- I really want Charlotte's and her brother-in-law's mutual antipathy to be explained -- it is so deep and intense, right now it is just sort of hovering over the story without contributing anything.
Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
In New York Magazine this week, Jennifer Egan mentions 5 books she has found useful. Nice -- I have not read two of them, and have only read a smattering of poetry from a third. I am excited about going to see her read tomorrow evening.
Update: What a great, great reading -- Chapter 5 was a good selection. She said hi to me! I'm all flustered now.
Friday, April 20th, 2007
I'm reading Jennifer Egan's first novel, The Invisible Circus, now, and liking it a lot. I really admired the scene in which Faith told her sister she had been at an invisible circus, and Phoebe was put out about not being invited along -- it sounded real when it could easily have been precious and forced.
I recently read most of Zadie Smith's latest novel On Beauty and found it enjoyable, but didn't really think it stood up to The Autograph Man and White Teeth.
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Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.