Well crikey, where to start, there is a buzz around this book and tht is for a very good reason. This is a book with no storyline, and that sounds totally bizzarre and it shouldn’t really work, and yet it does, beautifully! The central characters in the book are Bennie and Sasha. Bennie is ultra famous for nothing much except that he discovered a roch band who made it big, he is a music mogul these days and has all the trappings of wealth that go along with that. Sasha is his assistant, loyal and always at hand to sort out any problems and smooth things over. Each chapter of the book is about someone who has in some way or another been somehow involved, or is loosely connected with either Sasha or Bennie and their lives. You have to pay attention as you read, I wasn’t always sure exactly whom I was reading about, and how they fitted into the scheme of things, but that is actually one of the best things about it. You just have to trust that Jennifer Egan is going to take you to very good places and hang on tight while she sweeps you along on the journey.
The opening chapter is really engaging, Sasha is on a date that isn’t going paticularly successfully, her rampant cleptomania kicks in and she helps herself to a green wallet she finds lying in front of her in the handbag of a woman in the women’t toilets. I loved Sasha, struggling with her demons and trying to be ‘that girl’ she was the person I wanted to get back to throughout the book, and sure enough we find out enough about her to figure her out a bit. There are characters you will recognise, or at least recognise the type, and that is really what I thought the book was doing, showing you types of people you know, from the news, from the celebrity gossip columns and from the country clubs and magazines. The book will take you on a journey, on a shifting timeline, forward to the future and back to the 1960s, you will travel across the globe and meet dictators and party animals, young children and disappointed movie stars.
There is lots of biting comment on the state of celebrity, lots of things you could take multiple ways, and most brilliantly an entire chapter from the point of view of a young girl and done in Charts (Microsoft Word Charts) slide style. There is a lot to process, a lot to talk about and I’m dying for one of my friends to read it because I think that whoever you are you are going to get really different things out of it. I love that. A lot.
Read it, just decide you are going to and read it.
And it won the Pulitzer Prize this year, that’s a fairly high recommendation so you don’t just have to take my word for it.