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Great fiction is born not just of the story itself, but the manner in which the story is told. It sounds simple, but from simplicity springs truth.

Narratives that are built around a central conceit while spinning out multiple perspectives, for instance – tricky business. When done well, they can result in absolutely mesmerizing literature. When done poorly, well … we’ve all seen what happens when the spinning plates begin to tumble from their poles.

Jennifer Egan’s new novel “The Candy House” (Scribner, $28) very much occupies the former space, a hypnotic decades-spanning tale reflecting the juxtaposed light-and-dark possibilities looming in our very near future. There is no crashing literary dishware here. Instead, we get a sweeping epic rooted in the potential (and potential ramifications) that comes with the logical endstages of our societal tendency toward the sharing of experience and memory.

All of it, by the way, conveyed through a series of interconnected stylistically diverse vignettes that run the gamut – some are more traditional narrative constructions, while others veer into the abstract and/or absurd. We have email exchanges and second-person instructions, stories of tech billionaires and music producers and unsettled housewives, with the overarching tale playing out over multiple generations and venturing from our more-or-less present into an all-to-plausible future.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 08:50

Life during wartime – ‘Manhattan Beach’

Latest from Jennifer Egan a masterful, powerful work

Published in Style

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