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The Candy House
by Jennifer Egan
Nothing is free! Only children expect otherwise, even as myths and fairytales warn us: Rumpelstiltskin, King Midas, Hansel and Gretel. Never trust a candy house!
The Candy House is the crazy, impossible to label follow-up to the Pulitzer winner, A Visit to the Goon Squad. It’s 2010. Staggeringly successful and brilliant tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton is desperate for a new idea. He’s forty, with four kids, and restless when he stumbles into a conversation with mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalising” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, Own Your Unconscious, that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others, has seduced multitudes. But not everyone….
Using a number of cleverly linked narratives which take varying forms – social media, gaming, alternative worlds – Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. It’s a powerful look at the dangers of technology but at the same time leaves you with an overall sense of the human need for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. Its one of those weird and wonderful reads which stays with you for days after you finish it. The reviews have been stellar:
a beautiful exploration of loss, memory and history, a not too subtle critique of what is lost when we live our lives online. – The San Francisco Chronicle
a brilliant demonstration of the unquantifiable pleasures of great fiction. – The Washington Post
A fast-paced polyvoiced romp thru America in the grip of a sinister tech that allows others into your mind. EEK! – Margaret Atwood
A complex, compelling read that showcases Egan’s masterful storytelling.- Time
A multi-narrator masterpiece about searching for meaning in a crazy world. – Entertainment Weekly
An electrifying and shape-shifting story that one-ups its Pulitzer-winning predecessor. This is Egan’s best yet. – Publishers Weekly
Haunting and often hilarious, this is a wondrous, riotously inventive work… with magnetic pull for A Visit from the Goon Squad admirers and fans of smart, literary speculative fiction – Booklist
Egan is brilliant at examining how the internet and social media have refashioned us. You’ll be thinking about this audacious story long after you put it down. – Business Day Wanted
A deeply intuitive foray into the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture – Vogue