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May 30, 2012

“Emerald City”

by aedpad
emerald-city-jennifer-egan-paperback-cover-art

Jennifer Egan, who wrote the Pulitzer prize-winning novel “A Visit From The Goon Squad” published a collection of short stories under the title “Emerald City” in the UK in 1993, but did not release the book in the US until 1996.  Sixteen years later and I feel like the kid who overslept and missed the exam or the athlete that got a late start because I didn’t know who Jennifer Egan was until recently. And, now I can’t get enough of her work.

Emerald City” is a collection of 11 short stories that deal with  escape – the accused embezzler who was also taken in by a fraudulent business scheme, a model desperately trying to see the world she doesn’t fit into, a divorced stylist who constantly travels to avoid intimacy, and a teen who escapes to New York City only to realize she can’t stay if she wants to have the life that awaits her.

There are also short stories that deal with longing and regret: a teen longing to be the girl she has a crush on, a serial womanizer who can’t help himself, a cheating husband, and a married woman who looks down upon the perpetual girlfriend passed around among divorced friends. And, there are the stories that don’t fit into a one-word description: the woman who hasn’t spoken to her best friend in six years and the family that struggles with tragedy and how to fix their family.  Each short story is special in its own clever way.

Reading a collection of short stories is like sharing desserts after dinner. Instead of having just the lava cake, you can also have a bite of cheesecake, tarte tatin, chocolate cake, cherry pie, and ice cream. All scrumptious in their own way just like a collection of short stories.

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