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Showing results by Alexander Moran only

The LA Times piece was not the only controversy in which Egan found herself during the literary awards season. After winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, she was interviewed by Julie Steinberg for the Wall Street Journal. Steinberg asked her if she felt female writers are treated differently by the press than their male counterparts. In response, Egan briefly referred to the writer Kaavya Viswanathan, who had recently been found to have plagiarized the chick lit authors Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, and Megan McCafferty. Egan’s complaint was not that Viswanathan had plagiarized, but that “she had plagiarized very derivative, banal stuff. This is your big first move? These are your models?” She went on to say, “My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower” (Steinberg). These comments annoyed and angered many, with author Jennifer Weiner being particularly perturbed that Egan appeared to be dismissing all chick lit, and Jamie Beckman glibly asking Egan to “not step on other women as you make your way to the podium.” Egan immediately regretted her comment, and later described them as “really stupid, ill-informed, and unfortunate” (Ohlson). Egan was also deeply affected by the accusation of sexism, as this was the type of gender-based dismissal and misrepresentation that she has battled throughout her career. As she discussed with Laura Miller a decade earlier in 2001: “I hate about myself the fact that I tend to model myself consciously after male writers. And I think that’s because again there’s this association that I’m very suspicious of that somehow men take on the big topics more than women do, which I don’t think is necessarily true.” Egan also spoke of her frustration with the critical response to her first novel, The Invisible Circus (1994), saying, “I’m a woman and it was a story about sisters so there was an immediate assumption that there certainly couldn’t be anything very intellectual going on there” (Miller). Egan has challenged such simplistic assumptions about women’s writing throughout her career. Furthermore, in their formal experiments and stylistic diversity, her texts also challenge what contemporary fiction can do.

relevant to my convo w helen about classiness after her event lol

—p.2 Understanding Jennifer Egan (1) by Alexander Moran 2 months, 4 weeks ago

[...] The point is that postmodern fiction does not have a claim to all formal experiments, and a study of Egan’s writing illuminates a broader picture of literary history than is often told. She often cites Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905) in particular, as a huge influence, and has written a thoughtful introduction to a recent edition of Wharton’s classic, as well as George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871). She is also an acolyte of Don DeLillo and introduced DeLillo when he won the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2015 (Egan, “Fiction”). Also among her favorite authors are Robert Stone, Doris Lessing, Shirley Hazzard, Ralph Ellison, and Joyce Carol Oates, a more varied collection of influences than many of her contemporaries would cite (“Top Ten”). This unusual cast of influences is another reason why her works sit uneasily within many of the aforementioned paradigms suggested to define contemporary fiction.

However, she is not completely divorced from her peers. This book also seeks to compare Egan to David Foster Wallace in regard to their respective treatments of the sixties protest era; Colson Whitehead, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Lethem in terms of genre; George Saunders in connection to the recent wave of historical fiction; and Susan Choi, Dana Spiotta, Christopher Sorrentino, and Rachel Kushner in relation to their depictions of terrorism. Moreover, a focus on Egan does not result in the naming of a new movement, mode, or ideal to define the contemporary; as Egan herself wrote in 2014, “Personally, I could do without any further ‘isms’ (is anyone actually drawn to fiction called ‘postmodern’?), but I’m stirred by the question of how novels and short stories will evolve to accommodate and represent our ongoing cultural transformation” (“Introduction: Short Stories” xviii). Egan’s work therefore reflects what Andrew Hoberek describes as “the heterogeneity of contemporary fiction,” a phrase which captures the diversity of modes, genres, and forms used by writers in recent years (236).

—p.3 Understanding Jennifer Egan (1) by Alexander Moran 2 months, 4 weeks ago

In 1987, aged 24, Egan moved to New York. She applied to the MFA program at Columbia but was rejected (von Arbin Ahlander). As she states to Dinnen: “I didn’t come through the system and I don’t teach in the system, so I’m an outsider really” (“Artificial”). Postwar fiction has been named “the Program Era” by Mark McGurl, and with good reason, with contemporary publishing symbiotically bound up with numerous university writing programs. Many of Egan’s peers followed the path from an MFA to a writing career, such as Michael Chabon (University of California, Irvine), David Foster Wallace (University of Arizona), Junot Diaz (Cornell), Lauren Groff (University of Wisconsin– Madison), and many more. But Egan was not without guidance or support: “I created an ad-hoc MFA by taking workshops people were teaching out of their living rooms in New York when I first got there. Every workshop I sat in gave me something really vital” (Dinnen “Artificial”). She particularly lauds the influence of Philip Schultz—whom she met while working the slush pile for The Paris Review—in helping her to develop her voice (von Arbin Ahlander). Egan was not outside the creative writing system, but beside it; it was in this context that she wrote the stories that form Emerald City, which is why many of them contain the particular stamp of epiphanic structures promoted by creative writing classes.


—p.11 Understanding Jennifer Egan (1) by Alexander Moran 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Sam is particularly involved in “Brady bonds,” a type of restructured bank loan given to poorer countries, as well as investments in “emerging markets” (11). That Caroline’s sculpting career is built on the back of these ethically questionable activities suggests that any pretense that her art is authentically separate from the market is a stage that hides an unsavory funding source. Sam is troubled by what he does for a living throughout the story. He finds himself haunted by the Maasai children he worked with in Kenya and is “enraged” when comparing their struggles to the privileges he has purchased for his daughters (6). Throughout Egan’s writing there is a preoccupation with characters making compromises in their careers, and in particular how these compromises relate to their academic aspirations. For instance, Sam originally planned to make money and then return to studying anthropology or social work. Eve traces these depictions throughout Egan’s later work but does not quite account for the appearance of academic labor in “Why China?” and, as will be discussed later in the chapter, in “Letter to Josephine” (Eve “Structural”). In these early stories, academia is shown to be deeply connected to market forces, as Sam cannot quit to pursue the career he wants because their “overhead was so high” (8); he has compromised for financial gain, and he feels inauthentic to himself as a result.

—p.18 Emerald City (15) by Alexander Moran 2 months, 4 weeks ago

The Keep is, like Melmoth, a book within a book; the scenes in the castle are a part of story being told by Ray to his prison writing class. These strands are then connected in a final section told from the perspective of Holly, Ray’s prison writing instructor, who visits the castle in which much of the novel is set. Egan describes the structure of The Keep as a romance: “The story of Ray and Holly, the love affair there, is a love of language. They each give each other the gift of writing. That’s a gift that I somehow got, and that I’m grateful for. It’s a very dewy-eyed book for me” (Yabroff ).

—p.65 The Keep (63) by Alexander Moran 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Showing results by Alexander Moran only