Novel of the week: The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
Most of these short stories are excellent and ‘brain-stretching’
Jennifer Egan’s new novel is a “sibling novel” to A Visit From the Goon Squad, her bestselling 2010 novel about rock music, “Gen-X nostalgia” and the “digitalisation of everything”, said Dwight Garner in The New York Times.
Consisting of interrelated short stories which zigzag about in time, it resembles its predecessor in structure – and features many of the same characters. But at its centre is a new figure: the “Mark Zuckerberg-like” Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, has created an “implausible” device known as Own Your Unconscious, which lets users upload their own and other people’s memories, and “watch them all like movies”.
The sci-fi aspects of the book are neither new nor “particularly fully realised”, said Andrew Billen in The Times: memory uploads have been tackled better elsewhere. But this is essentially a book of short stories, and most of them are excellent and “brain-stretching”. What “really astounds is the visual brilliance of Egan’s writing across these disparate tales”. She won a Pulitzer for A Visit From the Goon Squad; I hope this book “wins another”.
Corsaid 352pp £20; The Week Bookshop £15.99
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