Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Look at Me

There's a lot more to Jennifer Egan's 2001 Look at Me than is initially apparent. Previously, I wrote about how I was attracted to her presentation of how we're ruled by images. The main character, a model whose face (read: livelihood) was destroyed in a car accident, finds herself in an identity crisis after reconstruction. Egan brings out some complicated theoretical issues about the power of images that I'd go so far as to call Foucauldian. What could have been a fluff piece on a model searching for her identity rather takes a deeper look into how it's nearly impossible, today, to separate the internal from the external.

Essentially, Look at Me is about various crises of identity - the model's, a younger girl, her uncle, a man with a mysterious past. These people all struggle to define themselves, despite of and because of the influence of American culture (the book takes place in both NYC and Rockford, IL - what could be more American?)

The second half of the novel is almost sci-fi, due to the far-sighted vision of Egan, who, though she wrote in a pre-9/11 world, somehow anticipates those events, as well as the crush of "reality" tv and internet programming we're experiencing now.

Chapter one is online, if you'd like to have a look, and here's an interesting interview with Egan about her book, and here's another article that kind of contains a spoiler, so you might want to wait until you've read the book before you read it.

1 comment:

Magdalene said...

Keep up the good work.