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Paperback Emerald City Book

ISBN: 0307387534

ISBN13: 9780307387530

Emerald City

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

These eleven masterful stories - the first collection from acclaimed author Jennifer Egan - deal with loneliness and longing, regret and desire. Egan's characters - models and housewives, bankers and schoolgirls - are united by their search for something outside their own realm of experience. They set out from locations as exotic as China and Bora Bora, as cosmopolitan as downtown Manhattan, or as familiar as suburban Illinois to seek their own transformations...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

My new favorite author

It's tough to articulate why Jennifer Egan is my new favorite author -- I suppose she has edged out Ian McEwan, finally. This collection of short stories is a terrific way to get to know her as a writer. I've also really enjoyed "Look at Me" and "The Keep" from Egan, and look forward to "A Visit from the Goon Squad." She is able to avoid clichés like hardly anyone else can, invoke emotional responses about the most unconventional concerns, make me smile and laugh at the strangest moments, and keep me turning pages. Some would call her a postmodern writer, I'm sure, because of her constant pushing at the edges of convention. To me, she makes reading exciting again.

Dry and terse and reliably right

I love this writer, with her dry, terse voice that somehow tells all. As you read the stories, you can trust that something very real is going to happen; not something "fictional" or contrived, but an event such as could happen in real life. Not that the lives of her characters are like yours and mine; they all suffer from modern malaise of one kind or another; they all need love or else are so numb they don't know they don't have it. One masterful story, "One Piece," chronicles an intense love needing to break out as a brother and sister strive for normalcy in an unimaginably beleaguered family. The pain of their circumstances would be unthinkable, but here we see decency, people trying to do the right thing, and then the extraordinary conclusion. This piece is uncharacteristically dramatic for Jennifer Egan, but it works beautifully and the story leaves you breathless. Egan's language and her dialogue are reliably right. One the devices I like most about her is that she will tell the story in the present but will then fast-forward to the outcome years later. In her hands, this works perfectly: it's just what we want her to do.

Little Gems

I found each and every story in this collection to be thought provoking, insightful, and a true joy to read. They are bitter-sweet, tender tales. Well...some are more like moments that evolve into stories, but all well- shaped. I do understand what a previous reviewer meant when calling them "studied". Yes, they could be thought of as 'here's how you do it samples' from a creative writing class, and a writer/reader may feel certain subtle manipulations at work, but I did not find that this interfered with the sharp brilliance of Egan's writing. This woman can really turn a phrase! I also think that it is possible to confuse a writer's "style" with a "formula". I just read Egan's "The Keep" and was blown away by it. Halfway through this story collection, I started to see these short tales as a working out of the longer pieces that have become Egan's novels. (Like an artist doing sketches of a larger work.) She is able to distill a character in a few sentences, and she captures the essence of setting brilliantly. "Sisters of the Moon," for example does more to capture the mood of the early seventies, youth and San Francisco than anything I've ever read. I find Egan's brush strokes to be very light. So light that she makes these stories look "easy." If there are little writerly devices at work, well... so be it. I still loved this collection. I found these stories to be a perfect blend of mystery, pathos, humor, angst and redemption. Egan nearly always gets it right. My favorites are "Why China", "Puerto Vallarta", "Spanish Winter", and "Sisters of the Moon". Writer or reader, skipping this collection would be a mistake.

Just Right

I read this slim volume of stories with a sense of awe. Each story is like a jewel set in an elegant bracelet. Egan's prose is crystal clear yet subtle. Her characters are so alive, so fatally human. Each story veered away from what I expected, but surprised me with how "right" they ended. Although these tales are conventional short stories, each of them had the clarity of a fine poem yet the depth of a novel.


I just loved this book. Sensitive, mysterious, graceful.
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