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A book review of The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan.

The Candy House

Every sentence is smooth and enticing, and so I follow Jennifer Egan into the candy house of all the free things and opportunities that the internet makes possible. This novel is an exploration of what the next steps could be, including being able to download our memories and perceptions to a ‘cube’ which we keep private or share in exchange for access to other people’s consciousness.

I can remember as a teenager wishing to be granted access inside someone else’s mind, just for a moment – so it’s not that crazy.

In The Candy House we don’t get to stick with one character for all that long. This is jarring, but the author makes it worth our while to get to know the next person, as their perceptions and predicaments come to life on the page, and we are swept along into this entangled, interconnected web of people, perceptions and predicaments.

This novel is a thought-provoking engagement with big ideas. It’s no gentle holiday read – instead it is perplexing and exploratory and interesting and humane. It’s a leap into the potential of the 21st century.

Not many people could pull off a novel like this! It’s crowded with people, some of whom are connected and others who just seem to be randomly included. It jumps around in time and place, and even format.

But Jennifer Egan’s assured, gentle, delightful writing, gliding effortlessly through all that complexity will help you to keep going, and to care about this kaleidoscope of human experience.

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