The Candy House
Corsair, $32.99 pb, 334 pp
Although Jennifer Egan had several novels under her belt by the end of the 2000s, perhaps most notably the slyly metafictional The Keep (2006), her 2010 novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, took the concern with the inner workings of contemporary culture and consciousness that wound its way through those earlier books, and translated it into something startlingly new and resonant. A meditation on time, loss, and possibility filtered through music and the music industry, it was as striking for its formal playfulness as it was for its acuity and countercultural savvy. In the decade and a bit since Goon Squad, Egan has produced only one book, Manhattan Beach (2017), a historical novel set in the 1930s and 1940s. Despite its emotional richness and interest in the often-obscured wartime experiences of women and African-Americans, Manhattan Beach is an oddly subdued novel, its conventional surfaces at odds with the spiky energy that makes most of Egan’s fiction so exciting.