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Friday, April 15, 2022

Review: The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

The Candy House
by Jennifer Egan

Thanks so much to Simon Schuster Audio,, Scribner and Dart Frogg Communications for this gifted book.

Publisher: Scribner
Publish Date: April 5, 2022
352 Pages
Genres: Science Fiction, Contemporary

It’s 2010. Staggeringly successful and brilliant tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He’s forty, with four kids, and restless when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, Own Your Unconscious—that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.

In spellbinding linked narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House.

Intellectually dazzling and extraordinarily moving, The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. With a focus on social media, gaming, and alternate worlds, you can almost experience moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.​ Egan delivers a fierce and exhilarating testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption.

My Review:

I'm going to keep this short as I'm not entirely sure what I just read.  Vaguely reminiscent of that Black Mirror episode where you can download all your memories so you can rewind and see what really happened... remember that one?  Well in THE CANDY HOUSE, we get Own Your Unconscious - not only do you get access to all your memories but you can trade them for someone else's.  OoOOoO - sounds very intriguing and I love it, but maybe my brain couldn't process it all. 

I almost felt like I was reading another short story collection that eventually came together somehow and I still don't know exactly know the who, the why or the what. It all does come together nicely in the end but I was befuddled for the majority.  I also ended up listening to this one over reading with my eyes and I think maybe that didn't help to really engage or follow along as well as it could have.  Though the whole cast was a lot of fun to listen to.

Listen, I haven't been in school in a really long time and felt like I needed a lot more brain power to solve the puzzle that is The Candy House.  And I think maybe this type of format for a book doesn't particularly work for me.  However, I also do think it's genius when authors do this because holy hell, how do they keep up with it all?! Impressive.


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