I am absolutely mystified by the success (including the 2011 Pulitzer Prize) of this book.
Granted, its structure is magnificent. The stories intertwine in remarkable ways.
But the individual sections, particularly the later ones, are shallow. Egan’s satire of the music industry, her depictions of college life (and the one apparently African-American character in the book, Bix), her comments on the suburbs, her prediction of what the future holds for us – there’s nothing new here. There’s just an excess of clever. The characters, even the 12-year-old, are all oh so self-aware. They are all winking at us; it’s annoying.
Egan’s prose is not at all helped by Roxana Ortega’s rather inept reading of the novel. She can’t seem to decide whether to give each character a specific voice (and when she does, they are generally stereotypical) or just reading the words. So she ends up in the muddled middle.