Writer: Jennifer Egan
Publisher: Corsair (2012), first published in 1993
Bought at: Periplus FX (IDR 20k, bargain price!)
Eleven short stories written by the Pulitzer winner, Jennifer Egan, all told tales about longing, empty feelings, broken hearts and homesickness. What makes this collection special is the setting of each story that embedded nicely into the plot. The setting became a crucial part of the stories, even more like a character that supports the whole tone of the stories.
One of my favorites is Emerald City, telling a story about the life of models in New York City. Their yearning to become the best, their competitiveness to be the most exotic, beautiful, and famous. To travel the world and define themselves as a supermodel. But then again, still they feel insecure, trapped, and lonely. With NYC as a perfect setting, this story is heartbreaking yet feels so true.
Another favorite is Passing The Hat, about a woman who is in the middle of transition phase in her life, trying to accept the reality that her marriage has ended, life goes on, even her old house is now occupied by a new family. Again, loneliness and self discovery became the main theme here and I can’t help but to sympathize with her.
The other one is Letter to Josephine, that tells a story about a woman named Lucy, who married one of the richest (and nicest) guys around, embarking into a new life full of luxury, traveling to exotic places and living in a wonderful house. But in Bora-Bora, she met a girl who introduced her to the new meaning of freedom. And suddenly Lucy remembered her old friend Josephine, and missed her terribly.
Jennifer Egan is a wonderful writer, and her short stories are the kind of stories that I wish I could’ve written. But again, like her other books, I found this short stories collection is not as memorable as I thought it would be. Yes, the stories are intriguing with some kind of sense of wonder that I always like, but still it lacks of strong character, memorable message and the story did not always linger.
Also because the tone and theme of the stories are pretty similar, I found it hard to remember which one is which, and they started to blend with one another in my mind.
I like the cover, though, it suits the tone of the book, with the vintage touch and the glittery colors.