Part of theBelletrist
Bix Bouton’s company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. It’s 2010. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—which 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.
Jennifer Egan’s newest novel, The Candy House, spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also extraordinarily moving, a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter and a chapter of tweets.
Joining Karah Preiss and guest host Betty Cayouette (of Betty’s Book List) as part of the Belletrist Book Club, author Jennifer Egan takes a deep dive into The Candy House, covering topics such as technology, the collective consciousness, shame, and social media, and taking The Candy House to a whole new level.
The Candy House
Enjoy an immersive experience with original, high-quality videos that pull you into the room—and bring the author’s words to life.
The Candy House
The Candy House
Learn about the author’s inspiration, writing process, and perspective with exclusive, original videos.
Karah Preiss introduces guest host Betty Cayouette, who recommends books at Betty’s Book List on TikTok, and they begin the discussion with author Jennifer Egan. Karah, Betty, and Jennifer talk about the relationship between The Candy House and A Visit From the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and how The Candy House came to be.
Betty, Karah, and Jennifer talk about writing a book from multiple perspectives, how parts of the plot were developed, and the differences (and similarities) in writing The Candy House and A Visit From the Goon Squad.
Jennifer shares the “wishlist” items she managed to accomplish in The Candy House with Karah and Betty, and they discuss the creativity found in the novel and how dreams are connected to art.
Karah, Betty, and Jennifer talk about how the technology in the book was developed, what inspired it, and how it works. They also discuss who the Eluders are in the book.
Jennifer shares how her own curiosities inspired the development of the technology in the book, how similar the internet is to the technology in the book, and how social media changes who people are (and how they see themselves).
Karah, Betty, and Jennifer discuss the good and bad of data and how it impacts art, including whether or not it’s actually telling us anything.
Betty, Karah, and Jennifer discuss whether or not they would join the collective, why seeing into the consciousnesses of others is so appealing, and the generational differences in engaging in technology and social media.
Jennifer shares the inspiration for the title with Karah and Betty, and the three discuss how fairy tales inspired the novel, and the role that addiction plays in the novel and on social media.
Karah, Betty, and Jennifer continue their conversation about social media, and discuss shame, why fiction writing is different from television, and what is up next for Jennifer.
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