The Candy House – Jennifer Egan

In the near future, we can all externalize our unconsciousness and store it in a cube, retrieving all our memories/life experiences from our brain only to watch them again. Naturally, people decide to turn this into a collective consciousness, allowing anyone to watch, say, hundreds of individual experiences of a concert from 1965. And woven throughout The Candy House is an amazing array of characters who in some way are connected to Bix who figured out this thing that changes the culture quickly, dramatically and forever. This book is a kaleidoscope of people and experiences, families, the music industry, a band everyone knew made famous by a mentally ill ex-military author who’s sister’s ex was one of the folks who spent his life counteracting the intrusion of the own your unconscious and their family took care of Lulu while her mother was in prison and she somehow is aware she has a famous father but her mother won’t tell her who. Lulu’s story is my favorite, weaving through the book, pure and yet traumatized, apparently repeatedly but in one part of her life she engages in public service that is captured in my favorite chapters that turned out to be a former New Yorker story — figures. Meanwhile, Bix got his idea when he read Miranda Kline’s book about a Brazilian indigenous people so divorced from the rest of the world that she can study their contained social structure to develop an algorithm and write her book “Patterns of Affinity” that led to the success of all social platforms. And Miranda was once married to Lou, a record producer who had two children with each of his three wives. Don’t get me started on Lou’s kids or Lou or his wives… I would love to understand, by the way, how Jennifer Egan’s brain works because while I find her writing and her story and her characters amazing I can’t imagine being a person who could put this book and all its story lines together. It is the journey of The Candy House, strung together with these interconnecting people at various times that makes the book, which is certainly not plot driven or chronological but makes so much sense and gives one far too much to chew on. I think…. I’ll read it again.

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