The Invisible Circus

I stayed up half the night reading a book. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. I read the whole book in less than 24 hours. I used to do that a lot, but as I’ve gotten older, it happens less and less often. It’s too hard to get up in the morning if you stay up reading until late into the night.

But I like the feeling of being so drawn into a story that you can’t stop, even to sleep. In this case the book was The Invisible Circus, Jennifer Egan’s first novel. There’s something about Egan’s writing that pulls me in. Maybe it was the San Francisco setting, or the coming of age plot (I tend to be a sucker for those), or maybe it was a similarity to what I’m writing now. (In both, a young woman leaves behind a life in San Francisco to go overseas and in the process will discover things about herself and those she’s closest to.) Or all of the above.

I devoured Egan’s Look At Me, too, in record time. Look At Me is the stronger novel, if you’re looking to chose an Egan book. The Invisible Circus has predictable plot turns, and the constant childhood memory/flashback sections kind of wore me down. It also feels, like a lot of first novels, pretty autobiographical. I have no idea if it really is or not.

I haven’t read her newest, The Keep, nor her debut short story collection. I’d be curious to hear opinions from anyone who has. In any case, The Invisible Circus was a solid, fast read, and an excellent way to celebrate not having to be at work this morning. And apparently someone in Hollywood liked it, too: It was made into a movie. Which from the looks of it, didn’t do very well. Ouch.


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