Read The Invisible Circus Online
Authors: Jennifer Egan
What came to Phoebe now, looking down at the city and bay, was a day when her whole family, even her parents, had played hide-and-seek by a field in Golden Gate Park. A sunlit afternoon, an oceany wind, glimmers of moisture on every leaf. Faith hid first. They all split up to look, Phoebe poking through the pinecones and eucalyptus leaves with a stick, then wobbling among the bushes surrounding the field, not expecting to find Faith—Phoebe was four years old at the most, too little yet to win these games, or even really compete.
Yet to her own surprise, Phoebe parted a clump of bushes and there sat Faith in a tiny clearing. She was grinning from ear to ear. “You found me,” she whispered. “You won!” But instead of calling out to everyone else and ending the round, Faith had taken Phoebe’s hand and guided her to the soft place where she sat. They waited together, hiding, Phoebe folded in her sister’s lap surrounded by her breath and heartbeat and warm long hair. She felt the cross-hatching of sun and shadow on her face, smelled rainsoaked earth and eucalyptus leaves and was overwhelmed by an almost unbearable happiness. She’d won the game.
Phoebe squirmed to look up at Faith, but her sister’s eyes were attuned to movement outside the branches, where the rest of the family was looking for them. A trickle of flute music reached her, faint, meandering, and something had risen in Phoebe, a joyous belief that at any time her plain surroundings might part to reveal this radiant, hidden place. And Faith would be there, waiting for Phoebe to climb into her lap.
Jennifer Egan is the author of
Look at Me
, which was a finalist for the National Book Award,
The Invisible Circus, The Keep, A Visit from the Goon Squad
, and the story collection
. Her nonfiction appears frequently in
The New York Times Magazine
. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Books by Jennifer Egan
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Look at Me
Emerald City and Other Stories
The Invisible Circus
These eleven masterful stories—the first collection from acclaimed author Jennifer Egan—deal with loneliness and longing, regret and desire. Egan’s characters—models and housewives, bankers and schoolgirls—are united by their search for something outside their own realm of experience. They set out from locations as exotic as China and Bora Bora, as cosmopolitan as downtown Manhattan, or as familiar as suburban Illinois to seek their own transformations. Elegant and poignant, the stories in
are seamless evocations of self-discovery.
THE INVISIBLE CIRCUS
In Jennifer Egan’s highly acclaimed first novel, set in 1978, the political drama and familial tensions of the 1960s form a backdrop for the world of Phoebe O’Connor, age eighteen. Phoebe is obsessed with the memory and death of her sister Faith, a beautiful idealistic hippie who died in Italy in 1970. In order to find out the truth about Faith’s life and death, Phoebe retraces her steps from San Francisco across Europe, a quest that yields both complex and disturbing revelations about family, love, and Faith’s lost generation. This spellbinding novel introduced Egan’s remarkable ability to tie suspense with deeply insightful characters and the nuances of emotion.
Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story that seamlessly brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.
LOOK AT ME
At the start of this edgy and ambitiously multilayered novel, 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 film, Jennifer Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with those of other casualties of our infatuation with image. There’s a deceptively plain teenage 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.
Available at your local bookstore, or visit
First Anchor Books Edition, October 2007
1995 by Jennifer Egan
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Nan A. Talese, an imprint of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 1995.
Anchor Books and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Library of Congress has cataloged the Nan A. Talese / Doubleday edition as follows:
The invisible circus / Jennifer Egan.—1st ed.
1. Teenage girls—United States—Fiction. 2. Hippies—United States—Fiction. 3. Sisters—United States—Fiction. 4. Death—Fiction. I. Title.
813′.54 —dc20 94-6205