“I am a curious person. My methodology is geared toward accessing the stuff I can’t consciously think of. I have all kinds of ways of doing that—I write fiction by hand, I try to write without stopping, I don’t read over what I’m writing. It’s all about putting aside the analytical part of my brain and getting at something deeper. I’m a big believer in the fact that we all know much more than we realize we know.”
-Jennifer Egan, episode 275 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan (“A Visit from the Goon Squad”) joins us this week. She describes the structural pulse of her new novel (4:00), why she’s drawn to nonlinear storytelling (6:33), and what “The Candy House” reveals about authenticity (7:40) in the digital age (14:26). Then, we revisit a formative trip to Europe (21:21) that inspired her to write (26:30) and move to New York, where she worked as a secretary to a countess (32:16) and rediscovered her creative voice (34:12).
On the back-half, Jennifer reflects on her late brother Graham (36:57), his courageous battle with schizophrenia (38:30), and his lasting presence in her work (40:13). We also discuss the role of luck (50:02), the value of pushing past boundaries (52:00), and how she continued to write in the face of loss (55:57). To close, she reads a healing passage from “Manhattan Beach” (57:22).
- Order Jennifer Egan’s new book, The Candy House.
- Find her previous books: A Visit from the Goon Squad, Manhattan Beach, The Keep, Look At Me, The Invisible Circus, and Emerald City and Other Stories.
- Learn more about Jennifer’s work on her website.
- Follow Jennifer on Instagram and Twitter.
- For more talks, hear our conversations with Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Gilbert, George Saunders, Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, Richard Powers, Michael Lewis, Ocean Vuong, and Gloria Steinem.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.