Josh Ang's Reviews > Emerald City

Emerald City by Jennifer Egan
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's review
Jul 30, 2011

really liked it

This collection spans the early output of Jennifer Egan originally published from the late 80s to mid-90s, when the writer was just starting out. Given that the writer was still so young then, these stories are even more impressive because they possess an assured tone of voice and attention to detail, that at times (dare I say it?) reminds one of the terse style of the late cult short story maestro Raymond Carver.

While Egan is most successful when getting under the skin of a cosmopolitan woman in stories like "The Stylist", "Passing the Hat" and the titular story about a fashion photographer and the doomed-to-fail model, she is equally adept at bringing to life the concerns of a middle-aged man confronting an old nemesis in a foreign and hostile locale in "Why China?". That story is striking because she creates such a strong picture of time and place that it seems to inform the protagonist's actions and lead him to risk his own life and his family's.

Elsewhere in the collection, there are pubescent angsty girls walking the thin line ("Sacred Heart" and "Sisters of the Moon"), women confronting their marriages, failed, tired or both ("Letter to Josephine" and "Spanish Winter"), and children who cope with loss and betrayal ("One Piece" and "Puerto Vallarta").

A sparkling and promising collection.

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