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Equipped with an arresting premise, Egan's hip and haunting second novel (after The Invisible Circus) gets off to a promising start. Thirty-five-year-old Charlotte, a thoroughly unpleasant Manhattan-based model who escaped the middle-class nothingness of her upbringing in Rockford, Ill., then spent her adult life getting by on appearances, literally loses her face in a catastrophic car accident back in Rockford. As Charlotte's rebuilt face heals and she goes unrecognized at the restaurants and nightclubs that were her old haunts, she must grapple with the lives and losses she has tried to outrun a fractured childhood friendship, the fiancé she betrayed and "Z," a suspicious man from an unidentified Middle Eastern country. Anthony Halliday, an attractive, tormented private investigator, interrupts Charlotte's isolation. Hired by a pair of nightclub owners to track down Z because he absconded with a pile of their money, Halliday carries the scent of romance, but he also kicks off a chain of introductions that bizarrely lands Charlotte in the "mirrored room" of great fame. She is reconnected with her past at the same time that she becomes part of a brave new Internet world, where identity itself is a consumable commodity. Oddly, this narrative alternates with that of her old friend Ellen's daughter (also named Charlotte), whose life in Rockford centers around two older men. Though expertly constructed and seductively knowing, Egan's tale is marred by the overblown trendiness at its core. Charlotte (the model, who progresses from horrid to just bearable by the end) and the others come to the same realization: a world ruled by the consumerist values bred by mass production and mass information is "a world constructed from the outside in." The Buddha said it better. National advertising; author tour. (Sept. 18)and Harper's, and The Invisible Circus was recently made into a film featuring Cameron Diaz.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Charlotte, a successful thirtyish model, miraculously survives a horrific car crash near Rockford, IL, her despised hometown. However, reconstructive facial surgery alters her appearance irrevocably. Within the fashion world, where one's look is one's self, she has become literally unrecognizable. Seeking a new image, Charlotte stumbles into a tantalizing Internet experiment that may both save and damn her. Back in Rockford, another Charlotte, this one a plain, unhappy teenager, wonders who she really is. Her search for self drives her to extremes; she maintains a tortuous sexual liaison with a mysterious high school math teacher and takes on an eerie scholar-disciple role opposite her unbalanced Uncle Moose, who is obsessed by his unorthodox theories about the Industrial Revolution. The intersections of these and the novel's other intriguing characters raise tantalizing questions about identity and reality in contemporary American culture. Egan continues to fulfill the literary promise she showed in her previous fiction, The Invisible Circus and Emerald City. Recommended for most collections.
- Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Maybe I am too old to appreciate this novel. I couldn't relate to any of the characters. I thought they were all shallow, self involved and not very likeable.Published 20 days ago by Judith L. Rusk
This book jumps around from character to character and gets more broken up as the book goes along. I found this very distracting and didn't think it transitioned from character to... Read morePublished 28 days ago by dawn
I went through an Egan phases because she was so trendy for so long. I read <i> Look at Me </i> in 2002 or 2003, and it really has not stayed with me. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christin M. Mulligan
Tried to read all reviews not to repeat "ourselves" ☺ but the hour being late, I give up. I really liked reading the novel but found the climax way too tiny. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Annamaria (Bertsie)
Could not develop even half-interest in the characters until 80+% through, and even then, only in the narrator and Moose. Read morePublished 4 months ago by C. Adelman
Not a bad read but not the best ever either. Very wordy, could probably have been cut by a fourth.Published 5 months ago by Kelly
This book is kind of all over the place, making it hard to get into. The character development is odd and they jump back and forth between very different scenarios a lot. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jessica S.
Jennifer Egan quickly stole my attention this summer when I read A Visit from the Goon Squad for a literature class. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Julianne