Today I talked to Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, a 2011 novel that won the Pulitzer Prize. The book was lauded for its creativity as well as its ability to capture what it’s like “growing up and growing old in the digital age,” as judges put it. In it, Egan explores time and does so in a nonlinear fashion. One chapter is written as if it’s a PowerPoint presentation, which is hilarious. She was awesome, and inspiring, to talk to.
Though Egan lives in Brooklyn, when I talked to her she was in Manhattan, getting stuff done—because, as I found out, that’s what Egan, the mother of two boys, does—she gets stuff done.
Me: What are you doing these days?
Jennifer Egan: I’m working on two new books at once (note: Getting stuff done, example one). “It’s an interesting thing because I’ve never done that before…usually I do journalism at the same time too…
Me: Man, that’s impressive I can’t even read two books at once.
JE: I agree. I also can’t read two books at one time. But my books move on multiple tracks, which relieves me of my temptation to over-complicate…I never know if things will work out. There’s always an absolute chance of failure.
(She went on to tell me that the two books she’s working on are very different. One should act as “a sibling to Goon Squad.” The other is a historical novel set in New York in the ‘30s and ‘40s. According to Egan, it’s “rather conventional.”
She explained that in an effort to focus on her writing, she has been doing less speaking engagements—maybe one presentation every six weeks.)
Me: The “engagements” tab on your website is totally empty.
JE: Thank you for reminding me. I’m writing this down right now. (note: Getting stuff done, example two)