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The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
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's review
Sep 07, 12

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, read-while-traveling
Read in July, 2012

If you're coming to The Invisible Circus after reading A Visit from the Goon Squad or The Keep, as I did, you're likely to be disappointed. It's different kind of book, more straightforward, with all the earmarks of a novel whose protagonist, Phoebe, is destined to lose her innocence.

“The dullness of Phoebe’s bedroom met her like a blow: polar bear wallpaper, rows of faded stuffed animals, a wicker chair that crackled when you sat in it.”

After graduating from high school, Phoebe decides to travel to Europe and follow in the footsteps of her elder sister, Faith, who made a similar trip 10 years earlier. The problem is, Faith committed suicide in Italy. Phoebe is more levelheaded than her sister but (doppelganger alert) becomes more like her at each stop, culminating in an epic freak-out in a medieval castle.

If this sounds somewhat similar, remember that Sasha, who appears in three of the stories in A Visit from the Goon Squad, also had serious problems in the old country. Furthermore, it raises the question: What the hell happened to Egan in Europe? In interviews, she’s discussed how a trip abroad replete with petty theft and crippling loneliness was instrumental in her decision to become a writer.

Although the payoff is fulfilling, the prose is a bit flatfooted compared with the hyper-realistic hijinks on display in the novels that follow.
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Ezekiel Dimaguila Yeah I read a visit from the goon squad first and then this ... I shared the same sentiments. I still liked it.

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