Look At Me : A Novel

Look At Me : A Novel

Book - 2001
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Random House, Inc.
A National Book Award Finalist
In this ambitiously multilayered novel from the acclaimed and award-winning writer Jennifer Egan, a fashion model named Charlotte Swenson emerges from a car accident in her Illinois hometown with her face so badly shattered that it takes eighty titanium screws to reassemble it. She returns to New York still beautiful but oddly unrecognizable, a virtual stranger in the world she once effortlessly occupied.

With the surreal authority of a David Lynch, Jennifer Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with those of other casualties of our infatuation with the image. There’s a deceptively plain teenaged girl embarking on a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger who changes names and accents as he prepares an apocalyptic blow against American society. As these narratives inexorably converge, Look at Me becomes a coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller of identity and imposture.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST 'A haunting, sharp, splendidly articulate novel.' —THE NEW YORK TIMES The introduction, discussion questions, suggested reading list, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group’s discussion of Look at Me , a coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller that traces the aftereffects of a devastating car accident on one model’s career.

Baker & Taylor
Stripped of her image and identity after a devastating car accident and the resulting reconstructive surgery, Charlotte Swenson, a jaded model, struggles to rebuild her life in a culture obsessed with surface appearance.

& Taylor

Stripped of her image and identity after a devastating car accident and the resulting massive reconstructive surgery, Charlotte Swenson, a jaded model, is faced with a difficult struggle to rebuild her life in a culture obsessed with surface appearance. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Anchor, c2001
ISBN: 9780385721356
Characteristics: 528 p. ; 21 cm


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Feb 06, 2014

This novel is about the American culture of image, media, and identity. It is somewhat prescient in its creation of the selling of identities on Internet. However, the story rambles, the concurrent narratives are awkward, the book is far too long, and it has too little to say. Not recommended.

Jul 10, 2012

I liked the Keep but did not enjoy this book at all.

Jun 02, 2012

I just adore Jennifer Egan's writing. I was enthralled by this story.

ksoles Jan 27, 2012

It took Jennifer Egan six years to write "Look at Me," and it shows. This sprawling, ambitious novel links together strange and diverse characters: Moose, a middle-aged ex-jock turned erratic history professor, still reeling from an epiphany he experienced years ago; Charlotte, a teenager longing for love while her brother recovers from leukemia; a furious Lebanese terrorist and an unhappily divorced private detective. Most strikingly, another older Charlotte dominates the narrative, this one a model from New York who has been in a disastrous car accident. Her face has been reconstructed with 80 titanium screws; once her livelihood, it is now a mask she hides behind as she walks past old friends and lovers who show no sign of recognition.

Many critics have commented on the uncanny way in which Egan's futuristic visions have come true. Indeed, in an age without webcams, Egan invents a dotcom start-up that approaches Charlotte in the hope that she'll let them record and webcast every detail of her daily life. The author's hinting at terrorist attacks on the United States (the book was published before 9/11) invokes an equal sense of eerieness and unease.

The climax that brings all the characters together feels both implausible and predictable yet Egan ultimately creates a commentary on how our own stories are mediated, commodified and shone back at us distortedly. As Charlotte says of her modeling career: "Being observed felt like an action, the only one worth taking. Anything else seemed passive, futile by comparison."

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