On the Friday of LitFest, Amherst College’s annual literary festival, The Common Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker sat down with Jennifer Egan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, among other accolades, to talk about crime, place, and “timely” writing. This is an edited version of that live interview from March 1, 2019.
Resisting the Path of Least Resistance: An Interview with Jennifer Egan
Here at The Common, we’re all about place, so we’ve been experimenting with more ways for readers to experience the locations of our pieces. Using this map, you can explore all the dispatches we’ve published set in New York City. Get to know Eli the Seltzer Man, the nighthawks on the Upper West Side, and more!
Even tight, feared spaces can expand, morphing from the past
into the fuzz of nostalgia, which I’ll try to avoid here,
e.g., #1, me at 16, looking for the “model studio” listed
in the Manhattan Yellow Pages. Toting a portfolio, I climb
the stairs of a West 40s walkup worn as another century.
“Models?” “No, that’s Cheekie, 2 flights up,”
one red talon points to heaven and off I go.
In every family, traditional portraits are hung up or carried around: cousins arrayed before a monument, parents holding their grandchildren, long-gone ancestors smiling from a black and white beyond. Though we cherish their aura, the faces and places remain static.
No mystery if the cats gather as this strange encounter
should have come to have emblematized the city:
for of all those who passed and paid homage to their peer
only you remained, after the room was clear.
Let’s just see if it fits, and your voice blurred, your hand brushing away mine, me laughing because seriously who says that? I flashed out of my body picturing you saying this to other girls, and laughed again.
It Can Feel Amazing to Be Targeted by a Narcissist
Around Times Square in New York City – images of the familiar cityscape where millions of people pass daily, taken at odd hours. This is an attempt to reveal a different state of that place, a place still permeated with blinking neon but devoid of its participants, left to itself. A surreal performance that continues without its audience.