Jennifer Egan publishes the highly anticipated dystopian novel The Gingerbread House.

“Writing about people I know gives me the vague feeling of being dead”

She returns to college and, returning home on vacation, meets a young Steve Jobs, with whom she goes out for a year. Although she is reluctant to talk about their romance, she reflects on Jobs’ impact on The gingerbread house“Being very suspicious of technology,” she says, choosing her words carefully, “it helps me to remember that these devices often arise from a sincere desire to improve the lives of human beings. By the time technology reaches the consumer, it is easy to blame inventors with some sort of malice or cynicism. But, during the time I was dating Steve, I witnessed a purely utopian vision ».

After college, he earned a master’s in literature from Cambridge University, then moved to New York to fulfill his new dream. In 1996, a publisher friend gave her her first journalistic assignment: a cover story for the New York Times Magazine which documents the first steps of 16-year-old model James King during Paris Fashion Week. Accompanied by shots by photographer Nan Goldin, James is a Girl it was partly an anatomy of the fashion machine in the 1990s, partly an elegy devoted to a girl’s lost childhood. The assignment, Egan explains, was an opportunity to infiltrate a world she was researching in order to write what would become her second novel. watch me. “When I called the modeling agents and introduced myself as a writer, no one listened to me,” she says. When she on the other hand she said she was from the Times, was immediately contacted.

The story changed the life of its protagonist: “I remember people stopping me on the street,” says King, now called Jaime. “He was a different kind of fame. People knew me, in the sense that they really knew me. ‘ King revealed that the story is what inspired her to leave the “traveling circus” of the modeling world behind at the age of 18 and become an actress and director. “Jenny’s ability to capture truth through writing is absolutely extraordinary,” she said.

Occasionally, Egan still writes for a few magazines, but seems to be more at home among fellow writers in a group that meets every Sunday via Zoom. These calls, which last several hours, are for her “the closest thing to going to church”, so much so that she even dedicated her new book to her group. Her members describe her as an indefatigable perfectionist. “Jenny is the most prolific of us,” says Melissa Maxwell, a playwright working on a novel.

Egan claims he has many other books in mind. Given her vivid imagination and reluctance to write about herself, it is unlikely that she will publish a story about personal trauma or a “roman à clef”. “Most novelists write quasi-autobiographical books,” said writer Andrew Solomon, her longtime friend of hers. “But she is on another level.” Susan Choi, winner of the National Book Award, who is her friend and her neighbor, describes her as “a brilliant intellect capable of looking beyond our reality. The depth of Jenny’s vision goes hand in hand with human warmth, so you never feel like you’re reading an intellectual experiment. ‘

“Writing about people I know gives me the vague feeling of being dead,” says Egan, scanning the East River. The silver surface of the water looks serene, but the wind is starting to pick up. Egan looks at the phone and sees that one of her children has sent her a message, reminding her that she has a life to return to. “Shall we go to a cafe to warm up?” She asks imperturbably. She feels inspired and wants to keep talking for a little while longer.

This article was originally published on American Vogue.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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