This book made me kinda mad. But it’s partially my fault. Apparently it’s a sequel and I’m not sure how I didn’t know that going in. For those who live under a rock, like me, Jennifer Egan wrote A Visit From the Goon Squad. Did you know there’s a sequel to that? Yeah yeah.
I’m not convinced you need to read one to get the other though. Based on Egan’s style of writing, which is to say, eclectic. There are a multitude of characters with loose connections to each other. So much so that I made a lot of notes about who was who and how they knew each other. Turns out that didn’t really matter because I’m not sure there’s really a plot. Or if there was, I completely missed it.
Let me try to explain it like this…let’s say you want to know the story of the Three Little Pigs. I’ll start with a chapter on the son of the man who harvested the straw one of the pigs used for his house. You might get excited reading about this man, whose life sounds beguiling. But the next chapter will then be about the aunt of the wolf and how she went on a trip that resulted in her meeting her mate and having a pup who occasionally hung out with his cousin when they were little. Then I might write a chapter about one of the pig’s adventures that involved a wolf trying to blow his house down, but it won’t be obvious that is what is actually happening. Maybe there will be an entire chapter written in emails (which is kinda fun) about one of the pig’s kids trying to meet them via a seven degrees of Kevin Bacon scheme. But you won’t realize it’s the pig’s kid because there are too many characters mentioned to keep track of, even though you took COPIUS notes about who was who. All the time you’re thinking, “What about the other two pigs and how it all ends? Wait, what was this story about again?”
That’s kinda how I felt during and after reading this book. I just couldn’t get into it and I’m not sure I even know what the story was about. And here’s what I thought the story was about – a future where people could download all their memories with the option to upload them to a collective consciousness. So you could search specific dates, people, or events, and benefit from the memories of anyone who experienced that thing. Sounds INTRIGUING, right? If you want to know more about that, I wouldn’t recommend this book.
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