Wednesday, 8 January 2014

173/111 - Black Box by Jennifer Egan

I downloaded this onto my iPad and iPhone recently as I started using Twitter again (mainly for finding interesting things to read and to expand my horizons) and I read that Jennifer Egan had written a story which was published entirely through Tweets. This download gathered everything into one volume so it could be read all at once.

I wasn't sure what to make of this at first and I was a little worried I wouldn't enjoy the story, but I found that it really quickly sucked me in and I wanted more from the narrator, but I was only going to get these delightful little 140-character nuggets. From what I could gather, this is sort of sci-fi - the narrator is some kind of spy who is trying to gather information from a powerful man by posing as an unassuming 'beauty'. The story reads a little like a set of instructions so seems quite distant and disjointed at times, but the coldness of the instructions makes some of the more brutal aspects sharper. The narrator appears to have a series of high-tech gadgets built into her physical body, such as a camera which can be triggered by pinching her ear, or a distress beacon which she can activate by tickling the back of her knee. It soon unfolds that her body itself is a black box for all the information she is gathering.

We never find out much more about the narrator other than that she has a husband somewhere waiting for her, and that she is acting to protect the USA. She encounters some danger, but ultimately seems to survive the encounters, although she will be forever changed.

I really liked this - it was the perfect length to devour in one sitting and I really liked the atmosphere of the story. I have several other Jennifer Egan books which I'm looking forward to reading in future.

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