Anticipating Egan's Visit
Dickinsonians eager to meet Pulitzer Prize-winning author
April 2, 2012
Whether they read just one of her works this semester or have been lifelong fans, students across the disciplines are eagerly awaiting the on-campus visit from Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan this week. Below, they offer thoughts on what they most admire about Egan and contemplate the questions they hope to ask her.
The author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Invisible Circus, Look at Me, Emerald Cities and Other Stories and The Keep will give a lecture Wednesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, followed by a book sale and signing. The event is free and open to the public.
“I’m very interested in why she put the book together the way she did. The stories were originally separate short stories that she then combined to make the book. I want to ask her what caused her to make that choice. I’m also excited because she went to high school in San Francisco, and I want to talk to her about that!” —Margot Cardamone ’14, history and Italian studies, Mill Valley, Calif.
“I’m excited for Jennifer Egan’s visit because she won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s rare we get to see incredibly accomplished authors speak, and the times that I have been able to do so (Art Spiegelman two years ago, Rebecca Skloot last year) have always been some of my favorite Clarke Forum events. Truly great writers always have something interesting to say, and I’m sure Jennifer Egan will be no exception.” —Andrew Chesley ’13, economics, Winnetka, Ill.
Time and Place
“Egan comments extensively on the role of time and memory in shaping our experiences and how we have a tendency to wish ourselves in a different time and place. I am curious about whether Egan herself has a specific time that she would like to travel to and why. Goon Squad touches upon technology’s ubiquity and its effect on our culture and language. I would love to hear Egan’s thoughts on social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter and whether she thinks they are transforming our traditional notions of how time and memory affect us. Along the same thread of technology, I recently read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and discovered that he dated Egan back in the ’80s. It would be cool to hear Egan’s thoughts on the late Steve Jobs and Apple.” —Fabiola Cineas ’12, English, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Creating Plot Through Characters
“Egan has tremendous perception and craft. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to speak with an author who is currently stepping into the canon. I’m a fiction minor, and A Visit from the Goon Squad gave me new insight into the way in which authors can create plot through characters. The novel taught me that each character—no matter how minor—has a story all her own and that when woven appropriately these stories can engage in conversation with one another. I would like to ask Egan what she feels the nonlinear order of events in A Visit from the Goon Squad effectively conveys, or why this construction is so effective in contemporary literature.” —Leigh Harlow ’12, English and French, Hingham, Mass.
The PowerPoint Narrative
“I’m looking forward to the visit because I wrote a final paper last semester on Egan’s use of PowerPoint in A Visit from the Goon Squad. Because my paper focuses on attempts to realize synchronicity in diachronic narrative, I would like to ask her about those elements in the rest of her text (i.e., how her non-chronological structure reinforces the PowerPoint narrative).” —Merit O’Hare ’12, English, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Tailored to My Generation
“A Visit from the Goon Squad is one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years, and I can’t wait to meet the writer behind it. If Egan is anything as innovative, funny and moving as her prose, her talk will be unforgettable. I’d like to ask her if she had a particular readership in mind when she wrote the novel—it seems so perfectly tailored to young people and spoke to me so clearly about my generation that I have to wonder if she had us in mind, even though almost all her characters belong to past and future generations.” —Mary Kate Skehan ’12, English, York, Pa.
Innovative and Inspiring
“I am looking forward to being able to meet with a contemporary, well-known author and learn more about her inspirations, motives and writing process. Egan has a knack for combining brilliantly drawn, flawed characters with intriguing plots and innovative story-telling methods. She has proved to be an inspiration to my own writing. In A Visit from the Goon Squad, Egan is able to convey the ever-changing social scene and complexities of the modern world through an out-of-time narrative that is not afraid to break traditional conventions about what constitutes a novel, story and even narrative.” —Colin Tripp ’14, English, Columbia, Conn.
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Compiled by Fabiola Cineas '12 and MaryKate Skehan '12.