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Look at Me: A Novel Paperback – October 8, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 173 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

Egan's moving but circumscribed first novel, "The Invisible Circus," in no way prepared readers for the millennial ambitions of her second—a comic, richly imagined, and stunningly written exploration of the American obsession with self-invention. The rebirth of Charlotte Swenson, a model, takes place in a cornfield outside of her detested home town, Rockford, Illinois, when she's pulled from the fiery wreckage of her car. A plastic surgeon painstakingly re-creates her face, but now both friends and strangers pass her on the street without a second glance. While Charlotte tries to "reposition" herself in New York, her namesake, the plain and unnervingly direct teen-age daughter of her best friend in high school, struggles to slip the snares of her confining life in Rockford; ostracized by her peers, she switches schools and initiates an affair with a secretive stranger. Egan's novel broadly and brightly satirizes the grid of power and celebrity as its older heroine negotiates Manhattan's brave new world of Internet entrepreneurs and razor-wielding fashion photographers. But the author is also attentive to those who live in the shadowy interstices of American life: a kid skateboarder with cancer; an alcoholic private eye; a mad professor obsessed with a time when our industries produced things instead of images. Egan's portrait of the younger Charlotte's lover, a rage-choked terrorist nestling into the heartland, is particularly chilling. And yet her novel is also an antidote for the ills it describes—an energetic, unorthodox, quintessentially American vision of America.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

Review

“Brilliantly unnerving. . . . A haunting, sharp, splendidly articulate novel.” The New York Times

“Comic, richly imagined, and stunningly written. . . . An energetic, unorthodox, quintessentially American vision of America.” –The New Yorker

Look at Me is so engrossing, energetic, sharp, and funny, it reminded me of Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece, Invisible Man.” –Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR)

“Arresting. . . . Look at Me is the real thing–brave, honest, unflinching. [It] is itself a mirror in which we can clearly see the true face of the times in which we live.” –Francine Prose, The New York Observer

“Egan limns the mysteries of human identity and the stranglehold our image-obsessed culture has on us all in this complicated and wildly ambitious novel.” –Newsweek

“Intriguing. . . . An unlikely blend of tabloid luridness and brainy cultural commentary. . . . The novel’s uncanny prescience gives Look at Me a rare urgency.” –Time

“Egan has created some compelling characters and written provocative meditations on our times. . . . [She] has captured our culture in its edge-city awfulness.” –The Washington Post Book World

Look at Me is a complicated novel . . . but the questions it raises are worth following a lifetime of labyrinths toward the answers.” –Los Angeles Times

“Ambitious, swiftly paced. . . . Egan writes with such shimmering élan that it’s easy to follow her cast on its journey.” –The Wall Street Journal

“Prescient and provocative. . . . The characters . . . jump from the pages and dare you to care about them. . . . The prose is crisp and precise. . . . The pieces fit together at the end with a satisfying click.” –Philadelphia Inquirer

“Impressive. . . . Few recent books have so eloquently demonstrated how often fiction, in its visionary form, speaks of truth.” –Salon.com

Look at Me makes us think about our trust in the images that bombard us, and what we give away in the process.” –Chicago Tribune

“Egan’s rich new novel . . . is about bigger things: double lives; secret selves; the difficulty of really seeing anything in a world so flooded with images.” –The Nation

“Stunning. . . . This is more than a story, it’s a thought-world, a novel of ideas brilliantly cloaked in the skin of characters.” –The Sunday Oregonian

“Egan’s take . . . is surreal and profoundly ironic and exaggerated, but it still rings true. . . . Beneath it all, she finds characters worth saving.” –Hartford Courant

“Breathtaking. . . . Combines the tautness of a good mystery with the measured, exquisitely articulated detail and emotional landscape of the most literary of narratives. . . . Sure to leave readers thinking about these very real characters for some time to come.” –BookPage

“An imaginative, well-paced read with serious questions about the elusiveness of meaning inside the gilded cage. Egan has intelligence to burn but plenty of feeling too.” –People

“Part mystery, part cultural critique, [Look at Me] . . . build[s] to a conclusion that is unexpected and disturbing, and mak[es] an incisive statement about our society’s obsession with fame and glamour.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Riveting. . . . As the book gains momentum, Egan’s writing is both fluid and driven, with wonderful slashes of satire. . . . A remarkable study of our culture . . . and of our palpable need to be known.” –O: The Oprah Magazine

“Egan has created a compelling world. . . . With [her] graceful prose and vivid characterizations, she navigates her plot lines’ churning waters with admirable skill.” –Seattle Weekly

“[A] scintillating inquiry into the complex and profound dynamics of perception. . . . Egan . . . animates a superb cast of intriguing and unpredictable characters, and tells an elegantly structured, emotionally arresting and slyly suspenseful story.” –Newsday

“Dark, hugely ambitious. . . . As riveting as a roadside wreck–and noxiously, scathingly funny.” –Elle

“Intelligent and refreshingly dark, Egan’s eerie tale has the same mesmerizing pull as the culture it skewers.” –Us Weekly

“This masterfully plotted work bears the stamp of a perceptive–if not clairvoyant–writer whose disturbing vision . . . rings all too true.” –SF Weekly

“Egan’s ability to move with ease between sincerity and satire sets Look at Me apart. . . . Her authentic-feeling details give a sense of unusual immediacy.” –Vogue

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Customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5
173 customer ratings
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Top international reviews

R. A. Davison
2.0 out of 5 stars The more I read it, the less I cared about it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 20, 2012
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Kindle Junkie
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay - just
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 9, 2013
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J. A. West
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying read and ultimately felt like a waste of hours ploughing through it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2015
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Jackie
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 23, 2013
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tina price
5.0 out of 5 stars Look at me
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 1, 2015
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Kitty
3.0 out of 5 stars good then turned creepy.. odd book ... but hey go read and judge for yourself ;)
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2015
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Pippin Major
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 12, 2015
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Susan
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard work
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 25, 2015
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Alex Borghi
3.0 out of 5 stars Fashoon and appearance
Reviewed in Italy on November 6, 2016
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JodiR
4.0 out of 5 stars A good but not great novel
Reviewed in Canada on August 9, 2016
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Christiane
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it
Reviewed in Germany on March 3, 2019
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but fascinating.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2011
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Ragnar
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what I saw
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 8, 2012
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Mike N
3.0 out of 5 stars Best I can say is "it's OK".
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 8, 2012
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Grace
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Reviewed in Germany on December 21, 2014
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