EXPOSITORY EXAMINIATION OF FORMAL CHIOCES MADE IN JENNIFER EGAN’S LOOK AT ME
The following paper will examine Jennifer Egan’s Look at Me and the readily-seen or at least probable choices the author made as relates to style, content and theme, point of view, and characterization, in crafting her novel.
The overall style (in the context of genre) shares elements with the detective novel, crime, thriller, even hints of the sordid and sultry characteristics of the romance novel. It is, in many respects, a literary/ genre crossbreed—at times borrowing from the postmodern, the meta-fictional, employing stream of consciousness, shifting voice and person (first and third), and the oft seen literary favorite-the internal monologue. Yet the style is also heavily plotted (to a point) with as much Who-done-it suspense as something Raymond Chandler might pump out.
Time magazine called Look at Me “An unlikely blend of tabloid luridness and brainy cultural commentary….” This is an apt description. Although Egan’s novel has titillating super-models, teen and adult sex, chameleon terrorists, skeletons falling out of all kinds of closets, and New York City, it still is very much a book of ideas, ideas about man’s perception of himself, the value we place on surface appearances. The novel questions the very efficacy of people’s ability to differentiate between image and content. Egan holds up a mirror for the reader to gaze into—to question herself, to question how the reader judges others and how others judge her.
In an interview with Donna Seaman of Bookslut.com (December 2006) Egan states:
I’m interested in the relationship between internal and external. In Look at Me, I was wondering if image culture, the tendency to look at ourselves from the outside in—a kind of reversal of what I think would have been the original way of conceiving of ourselves and of human beings—ultimately impacted our inner lives. Did it change...