Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Invisible Circus

I'm becoming quite the fan of Jennifer Egan - just read her first novel, The Invisible Circus (1995) and previously The Keep and Look at Me.

The Invisible Circus is her first novel (she's got some short stories too), and was made into a movie with Cameron Diaz (I haven't seen it). It's about a young woman whose sister committed suicide about six years before. She's sort of living in the shadow of her vivacious sister's life and death. In a sudden burst of energy (I don't think I'm ruining it) she decides to follow the footsteps of her sister and her last few months in Europe, ending at the place of her death, in an effort to solve the mystery of how she could have killed herself.

The story takes place in 1978, with flashbacks to older sister's involvement in the scene in San Francisco and Europe in the '60s. Egan creates a vivid sense of space and time. One of the major themes of the book is nostalgia, and, she's brilliant at it - I felt a nostalgia for a time I'd never experienced just reading it.
"The weird thing about that time," he said, tentative now, "is in a way we were nostalgic for it even while it happened. I htink it had to do with constandly watching ourselves, on drugs, the whole out-of-body thing, but also on TV, in the papers. We were news. Whatever we did felt so big, so unbelievably powerful, almost like it was happening in retrospect. I've never felt anything like that, before or sinse. It wasn't real life. Which I guess is what made it great."
Like Look at Me, this book also deals with identity as well, in this case, the younger sister's discovery of her own personality outside the definition of herself as created in and by her family.

I'd recommend it - it was really great.

1 comment:

Novelicious said...

There's an award for you on my blog! x