The Candy House
By Jennifer Egan
What’s it about?
In this series of interwoven chapters we see the creation of a new online tool called “Own Your Unconscious”. With this computer generated tool you are able to access every memory you have ever had in exchange for granting access of these memories to all others in the system. This allows you to not only view actual events (who actually remembers anything accurately- if at all?) in your memory, but also see the events through others’ perspectives. As with all innovations- we then go on to see the good and bad of this creation through the lives of multiple characters.
What did it make me think about?
This novel made you think about the consequences of all our decisions regarding the internet (both past and those to come) and how much these decisions have enhanced and/or detracted from our lives. Think of some of our early decisions- “People were letting the Internet go inside their computers and play their music, so that they, too, could play songs they didn’t own without having to buy them. The idea made us squeamish; it was like letting a stranger rummage through your house- or your brain! Once the internet was inside your computer rifling through your music, what else might it decide to do?”
Should I read it?
So, some books you read to be entertained, some you read just to put you on the edge of your seat, and some stories are written to make you think. My first Jennifer Egan book “A Visit From the Goon Squad” was definitely a novel that made me think, her second novel “Manhattan Beach” was great storytelling, in this novel Egan goes back to the beginning and makes you put your thinking cap on. All of these interconnected stories just whirled around in my brain. Who is connected to whom, and how are they connected to the characters in her first book? I just let it all swirl and kept on reading. There is no doubt that Jennifer Egan is a HUGE talent and this book is worth reading. But be aware you may finish and think “I need to read that again”. I highly recommend this book to all the readers out there. Then find a group and talk about it…
“Never trust a candy house! It was only a matter of time before someone made them pay for what they thought they were getting for free. Why could nobody see this?”
“Not every story needs to be told.”