Monday, October 22, 2012

Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan's books include The Invisible Circus, which was released as a feature film by Fine Line in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories, Look at Me, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 2001, The Keep, and A Visit From the Goon Squad, a national bestseller, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize.

From her 2011 interview with Yuka Igarashi for Granta:

[A Visit From the Goon Squad] is narrated by a wide array of interrelated characters over several decades. I’m curious about how you conceived of and created this structure. Did you see the whole novel at once? Did you write the chapters in order?

Well, I didn’t even see it as a novel, exactly, but more as a series of lateral ‘moves’ in which a peripheral character that has hopefully provoked curiosity at an earlier point is revealed to have a complex, even tumultuous inner life. It evolved pretty organically, and I didn't have a clear sense of the whole until close to the end. For a long time I imagined that the book would simply move backwards, because the early chapters were unfolding that way, but the plan was complicated, first, by the emergence of chapters that took place in the future, and, second, by my horrified discovery, when I read the book through in a backwards order, that the result was lumbering and flat. It was at that point that I realized I needed to let go of linear chronology entirely, and that backwards was still linear. The order of the chapters was one of the last things to fall into place, and really hinged on my asking myself, ‘Having just read X, what will the reader be most surprised – yet satisfied – to encounter next?’

The ‘goon’ in your title is time. One character says to another: ‘Time’s a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?’ In your book at least, the answer is yes – time beats all of your characters to a pulp. Do you think time ever makes people wiser or better?

I think it makes people...[read on]
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--Marshal Zeringue