What I’m reading

“She was thinking of the old days, as she and Bennie now called them — not just pre-Crandale but premarriage, preparenthood, pre-money, pre-hard drug renunciation, preresponsibility of any kind, when they were still kicking around the Lower East Side with Bosco, going to bed after sunrise, turning up at strangers’ apartments, having sex in quasi public, engaging in daring acts that ahd more than once included (for her) shooting heroin, because none of it was serious. They were young and lucky and strong — what did they have to worry about? If they didn’t like the result, they could go back and start again. And now Bosco was sick, hardly able to move, feverishly planning his death. Was this outcome a freak aberration from natural laws, or was it normal — a thing they should have seen coming? Had they somehow brought it on? Jules put his arm around her. ‘If you’d asked me this morning, I would have said we were finished,’ he said. ‘All of us, the whole country — the fucking world. But now I feel the opposite.’ Stephanie knew. She could practically hear the hope sluicing through her.

— Jennifer, Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

I didn’t think I’d love this book. I’d heard it was postmodern, had a chapter that was a slide show, that it kicked up that old debate about a novel vs interrelated short stories. But you know what? I loved it. It’s one of those books that, with every chapter (or story! who knows!), you think you’ve dug deep into human understanding, and then bam!, Egan turns it like three more times. I can’t wait to read it again.

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