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Publisher's Summary

One of Barack Obama’s Summer Favorites!
An NPR Top Pick for 2022!

Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Oprah Daily, Glamour, USA TODAY, Parade, Bustle, San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Times, BuzzFeed, and Vulture

“A compelling read that showcases Egan’s masterful storytelling.” —
Time
“Dazzling.” —
Vogue
“Radiant, exhilarating.” —
Slate
“Mesmerizing…A thought-provoking examination of how and why we change.” —
People

From one of the most celebrated writers of our time comes an “inventive, effervescent” (Oprah Daily) novel about the memory and quest for authenticity and human connection.

The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, and desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—which allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share your memories in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes.

In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also a moving testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for connection, family, privacy, and love.

“A beautiful exploration of loss, memory, and history” (San Francisco Chronicle), “this is minimalist maximalism. It’s as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century novel onto a flash drive” (The New York Times).

©2022 Jennifer Egan. All rights reserved (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Interview: Jennifer Egan Asks, How Much Sharing Is Too Much Sharing?

'I'm looking for the action in my own head.'
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  • The Candy House
  • 'I'm looking for the action in my own head.'

Editor's Pick

You can’t resist The Candy House
When I heard that 2022 would be the year Jennifer Egan was coming out with a companion to her mind-expanding, Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, I felt an immediate need to revisit this book I first read way back in 2010. I downloaded and listened and realized, wow—I missed a lot the first time around, or maybe it’s me that’s changed over the past 10-plus years? And then it was time to take in The Candy House. I didn’t have to go through this preparation—both novels stand on their own—but it was a very satisfying experiment. The Candy House is so much fun! It comes alive in dozens of entwined stories, performed by an incredible cast of narrators. It’s a world a lot like this one, if this world had a utopian/dystopian product known as Own Your Unconscious, a cube that lets a user upload his or her memories, tap into the memories of others who’ve uploaded theirs, and watch them like movies. It’s all so seemingly unimaginable yet inevitable at the same time. I’m still a little dizzy. —Tricia F., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Candy House

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She did it again!! Love it!

This is a fitting “sister book” to the Goon Squad. It has its own arc and charisma so never feels like ”part 2.” It keeps readers thinking about cutting edge issues that affect daily life with compelling characters snd storylines. The narrators are wonderful. A must read!!!

7 people found this helpful

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What???

Not sure this held up to the hype. Many different points of view that are kinda sorta connected but not really. At first, I liked the idea of the novel but it just didn’t pan out. This book was all over the place and the ending was just strange.

4 people found this helpful

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Stunning

Egan makes me think of Faulkner and García Márquez in her creation of her own universe of reappearing characters and she keeps writing novels I wish I could write. I finished this book experiencing goosebumps and tears because I hate to part with it.

3 people found this helpful

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Masterful.

I almost did not read based on several reviews, but this should not be missed by serious readers, philosophers, sociologists, historians, publicists, psychiatrists, linguists, futurists, among otherists.

3 people found this helpful

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Potential

Has potential to be a great book, with some eloquent prose. However somewhere in the middle It became abruptly tedious much to my disappointment. At first I kept going, still hopeful but then it became clear that it wasn’t worth my rising frustration to finish it.

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It didn't come together for me at the end

It was very discombobulated. There was too much to keep track of when it came to the relationships in the book. I was expecting closure, but it didn't happen.

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Huh?

Performance/readers was fantastic. Story - not so much. Could not follow. Maybe easier read than listened to - but even so, I feel like I was waiting for something to happen to REALLY tie all of the stories together. It just never got there.

1 person found this helpful

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Read this one, skip audio

What an ambitious novel! I read Egan’s 2010 Pulitzer-winning novel, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” over a decade ago and I adored it. In her newest novel, “The Candy House”, she revisits her Goon Squad characters. Although one doesn’t need to have read Goon Squad first, I think I would have enjoyed “The Candy House” more if I would have reread it, as my GR friend Lisa did.

The story begins with Bix Bouton from the Goon Squad. He’s a “Tech Demigod” and founded Mandala, a social media entity. In “Candy House” he creates a new gadget that allows the human mind to be copied called “Own Your Own Conscious”. He has a subscription only feature (the CollectiveConsciousness) in which if you upload your mind, you can access every member’s collective consciousness. “By uploading all or part of your externalized memory to an online collective, you gained proportionate access to the anonymous thoughts and memories of everyone in the world, living or dead, who had done the same.” For example, if you wanted to identify a person who you met in passing yet think that that person could be the great love of your life, you can run a face-match on the CollectiveConsciousness. Egan proposes it like facebook in which you can connect with old friends. Of course the law enforcement agencies want to utilize it for crime reasons.

Yet, Egan makes her novel a cautionary tale of providing too much of our personal data online. We live in an era of unprecedented access to personal data, including what people ate for lunch. Egan ponders, does this access actually make us better at understanding one another?

As with “Goon Squad”, Egan uses an innovative structure. In “Candy House”, each chapter picks up the point of view of a supporting character from a previous chapter, thereby seeing characters from differing lenses. And then structurally it changes in such a way, that I wished I would have read this instead of listening to the audio.

This ambitious story is told from 16 narrators, all amazing. Yet, her structure made listening, rather than reading, the story uneven. The beginning and end of the story follow a story trajectory. In the middle there is a chapter of tweets, a chapter of emails, and a strange LuLu the spy interlude.

Take my rating with a grain of salt, and it’s for the audio. This is a novel that should be read. Too many visuals are needed to totally enjoy the story.

1 person found this helpful

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Robert Altman-esk

Egan’s “Candy House,” returns to many of “The Goon Squad’s” original characters and their grown childrens’ lives. Her character portals are succinct, you develop sympathy for all of them, and for myself at least, marvel at the idea of accessing a collective conscious, reliving the before smart phones days, smoking the good stuff with friends, attending great concerts, and the post pandemic age where extracting spying “brain weevils” is known to exist.

From Mondrian to Mandela, I marvel at the tapped consciousness and inspiration she draws her ideas from. A new favorite author.

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Just an idea

No story here, just an idea of one. Blathering ad nauseum. No idea where this story was headed except into a wall. Way too much hype from "leading" figures. Totally mislead.

1 person found this helpful

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