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Look at Me [Paperback]

Jennifer Egan
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

15 Sep 2011
Reconstructive facial surgery after a car crash so alters Manhattan model Charlotte that, within the fashion world, where one's look is oneself, she is unrecognizable. Seeking a new image, Charlotte engages in an Internet experiment that may both save and damn her. As her story eerily converges with that of a plain, unhappy teenager - another Charlotte - it raises tantalizing questions about identity and reality in contemporary Western culture. Jennifer Egan's bold, innovative novel, demonstrating her virtuosity at weaving a spellbinding, ambitious tale with language that dazzles, captures the spirit of our times and offers an unsettling glimpse of the future.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (15 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780330995
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780330990
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Brilliantly unnerving. . . . A haunting, sharp, splendidly articulate novel."" "-"The New York Times" "Comic, richly imagined, and stunningly written. . . . An energetic, unorthodox, quintessentially American vision of America." -"The New Yorker" ""Look at Me" is so engrossing, energetic, sharp, and funny, it reminded me of Ralph Ellison's masterpiece, "Invisible Man."" -Maureen Corrigan, "Fresh Air" (NPR) "Arresting. . . . "Look at Me "is the real thing-brave, honest, unflinching. [It] is itself a mirror in which we can clearly see the true face of the times in which we live." -Francine Prose, "The New York Observer""Egan limns the mysteries of human identity and the stranglehold our image-obsessed culture has on us all in this complicated and wildly ambitious novel." -"Newsweek" "Intriguing. . . . An unlikely blend of tabloid luridness and brainy cultural commentary. . . . The novel's uncanny prescience gives "Look at Me "a rare urgency." -"Time" "Egan has created some compelling characters and written provocative meditations on our times. . . . [She] has captured our culture in its edge-city awfulness." -"The Washington Post Book World" ""Look at Me" is a complicated novel . . . but the questions it raises are worth following a lifetime of labyrinths toward the answers." -"Los Angeles Times" "Ambitious, swiftly paced. . . . Egan writes with such shimmering elan that it's easy to follow her cast on its journey." -"The Wall Street Journal" "Prescient and provocative. . . . The characters . . . jump from the pages and dare you to care about them. . . . The prose is crisp and precise. . . . The pieces fit together at the end with a satisfyingclick." -"Philadelphia Inquirer" "Impressive. . . . Few recent books have so eloquently demonstrated how often fiction, in its visionary form, speaks of truth." -"Salon.com" ""Look at Me "makes us think about our trust in the images that bombard us, and what we give away in the process." -"Chicago Tribune" "Egan's rich new novel . . . is about bigger things: double lives; secret selves; the difficulty of really seeing anything in a world so flooded with images." -"The Nation" "Stunning. . . . This is more than a story, it's a thought-world, a novel of ideas brilliantly cloaked in the skin of characters." -"The Sunday Oregonian" "Egan's take . . . is surreal and profoundly ironic and exaggerated, but it still rings true. . . . Beneath it all, she finds characters worth saving." -"Hartford Courant" "Breathtaking. . . . Combines the tautness of a good mystery with the measured, exquisitely articulated detail and emotional landscape of the most literary of narratives. . . . Sure to leave readers thinking about these very real characters for some time to come." -"BookPage" "An imaginative, well-paced read with serious questions about the elusiveness of meaning inside the gilded cage. Egan has intelligence to burn but plenty of feeling too." -"People" "Part mystery, part cultural critique, ["Look at Me"]"," . . build[s] to a conclusion that is unexpected and disturbing, and mak[es] an incisive statement about our society's obsession with fame and glamour." -"San Francisco Chronicle" "Riveting. . . . As the book gains momentum, Egan's writing is both fluid and driven, with wonderful slashes of satire. . . . A remarkable study of our culture . . . and of ourpalpable need to be known." -"O: The Oprah Magazine""Egan has created a compelling world. . . . With [her] graceful prose and vivid characterizations, she navigates her plot lines' churning waters with admirable skill." -"Seattle Weekly" "[A] scintillating inquiry into the complex and profound dynamics of perception. . . . Egan . . . animates a superb cast of intriguing and unpredictable characters, and tells an elegantly structured, emotionally arresting and slyly suspenseful story." -"Newsday" "Dark, hugely ambitious. . . . As riveting as a roadside wreck-and noxiously, scathingly funny." -"Elle" "Intelligent and refreshingly dark, Egan's eerie tale has the same mesmerizing pull as the culture it skewers." -"Us Weekly" "This masterfully plotted work bears the stamp of a perceptive-if not clairvoyant-writer whose disturbing vision . . . rings all too true." -"SF Weekly" "Egan's ability to move with ease between sincerity and satire sets "Look at Me" apart. . . . Her authentic-feeling details give a sense of unusual immediacy." -"Vogue"

Book Description

The stunningly well praised second novel from Jennifer Egan the author of the bestselling A Visit from the Goon Squad, which also won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two Charlottes 27 Sep 2011
By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Look at Me' has been republished on the back of the success of Jennifer Egan's multi-award winning A Visit From the Goon Squad. I'm always reticent to read these resurrected books; if they are any good, why did they go out of print in the first place? But of course, publishing is a fickle art; all too often, great books sink without trace. 'Look at Me' has an intriguing premise and 'Goon Squad', made such an impression on me (it's a book that seems to get better the more I think about it), I thought I would have to give it a try.

'Look at Me' is a heavier read than 'Goon Squad', weighing in at over five hundred pages. It's a much more conventional novel, with a traditional narrative flow and not a single PowerPoint slide in sight.

The book follows two Charlottes. The first is a former model, who has undergone extensive facial reconstruction after a near-fatal car crash. She finds herself on the outside of the world she used to know; unrecognised and unwanted by a profession where appearance is everything and experience counts for little. The other Charlotte, a teenage girl in a decaying Midwestern town, has yet to discover who she is. She has tried many faces, but which one is the real Charlotte?

Though quite different in tone to 'Goon Squad', 'Look at Me' covers similar ground. If Goon Squad was about gaps in memories and how time changes perception, 'LAM' is about the gap between how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others, and more, how we want to be perceived.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The more I read it, the less I cared about it 20 May 2012
By R. A. Davison TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Look At Me is the story of Charlotte Swenson, a model whose face is damaged so badly in a car crash, that following reconstructive surgery she becomes unrecognisable to those who knew her. It is also the story of Charlotte Hauser, Charlotte Swenson's teenage namesake, the daughter of her estranged best friend, and the narrative switches between the two protagonists.

The prose is often well written and has some great identifiable moments throughout such as :

"When she thought of herself a year ago she remembered a girl with outsized hopes, a girl who believed the world had made secret arrangements in her favour. Charlotte hated her"

The premise too is a really good one, life beyond disfigurement, an interesting story to be told. Unfortunately this really isn't that story. Though this is the novels central plot, the story of the younger Charlotte has naught to do with this idea. Furthermore it is the younger Charlotte who is the more intriguing and likeable character. Older Charlotte the model is an irritating arrogant character to be in the company of, and the opportunity for psychological reflections on the nature of disfigurement does not take place, so much so that I do wonder if Egan even bothered to consult people who had experienced like tragedies.

In some ways it felt like two separate novels merged, a novel on loss of beauty, and a novel on loss of innocence; as though perhaps originally there had been only one Charlotte and Egan did not know whether to focus on her youth or her adulthood. The storyline involving the mysterious Z who solidifies a link between the two feels completely preposterous and tenuous due to excessive coincidence.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but fascinating. 27 Nov 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Published with extraordinary prescience a day or so from 9/11, this long novel deals with Charlotte a model whose face is reconstructed after a car crash, her friend's daughter, also called Charlotte, and an terrorist mole -- presumably Islamic, but this is never spelt out -- who ends up walking away from the atrocity he is planning. The mole is a made-up character, and you can tell -- wholly unconvincing, particularly in the light of what we now know about the 9/11 hi-jackers. The two Charlottes, by contrast, are brilliantly done. Jennifer Egan writes about the secret lives of women with a marvellous vividness and frankness. The only contemporary writer who can touch her in this regard is Curtis Sittenfeld.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard work 10 July 2013
Format:Paperback
I, like another reviewer,also found with this book the more I read the less I cared. There are two Charlottes in the book, a friend of the mother of the younger one. The 'aunt'Charlotte character got more distant and unlikeable as I got further into the book. The young Charlotte was a puzzle. The natural uncle of the young Charlotte, Moose started off well and then the character changed. There was so much 'navel gazing' and pravacating in the book I switch off as reading it annoyed me as it went all over the place.I'm very glad to say I got this as a free ebook away from Amazon so I don't begrudge buying it and I'm very happy to admit I gave up on it three quarters of the way through. Life's too short to devote my time to something I can't enjoy reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay - just 9 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bought this after finishing this author's Goon Squad had been read and thoroughly enjoyed. If I'd read this first I may have enjoyed it much more, but I was constantly reading it as a comparison. Big mistake.

Unfortunately it was a poor comparison. The characters were all so disagreeable and I had no empathy for them which didn't help. It started well, and the theme was brilliant, a beautiful model disfigured in a road accident and her trying without success to come to terms with suddenly not being the centre of attention. But I constantly waited for something to happen. A big scene seemed on the horizon on many occasions, only to fizzle out before any satisfactory conclusion. In fact, a good description of this book would be unsatisfactory.

If you're going to read anything by this author, choose the Goon Squad. Give this a miss.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A multi-layered search for meaning which left me slightly cold
The novel follows the story of 4 key characters: Charlotte, the former model; Charlotte, the teenage girl (and daughter of the other Charlotte's childhood friend); Moose, the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by brownster_84
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't go back to Rockford
and waste another year (REM). Jennifer Egan is a fine big city novelist, so we could have been spared some of the small town stuff here and had an even more excellent novel. Read more
Published 14 months ago by terence dooley
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure delight
I came to this novel having read (twice, because I loved it so much) Egan's brilliant A Visit from the Goon Squad. Look at me is every bit as well-written. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Poppy Hall
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok
Just couldn't get into the book. Don't think that half the characters even really needed to be in the book or made sense
Published 17 months ago by Vixs
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I struggled through 58% of the novel, which seemed rather disjointed and trying to create an air of mystery - it didn't work. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mrs J Grebby
1.0 out of 5 stars I would not choose to read this book
I read this book as part of my Book Reading Group selection. The object of joining a group like this was to introduce myself to books and authors that I would never usually read. Read more
Published 18 months ago by sheilamary3
1.0 out of 5 stars Look At Me- No Thanks
I downloaded this book because it was one of the kindle daily deals, but I wish I hadn't. The reviews of the book made it sound intriguing and interesting, but I was to be bitterly... Read more
Published on 19 Jun 2012 by Mrs C
2.0 out of 5 stars Had so much promise...
What an anti-climax. There were parts I enjoyed, parts I skimmed over due to the lengthy boring descriptions and characters that I just didn't see the point in. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by lovesakindledailydeal
2.0 out of 5 stars So boring I gave up reading (something I NEVER usually do)
I started reading this a couple of months ago when I first purchased it. I kept putting it down and picking it up - finally this week I stopped beating myself up and asked myself... Read more
Published on 18 May 2012 by Ms. CJ Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read which I preferred to her recent bestseller
A fantastically observed and well written earlier title from this writer, which got me interested in discovering her other writing now which I shall sample on Kindle first. Read more
Published on 17 April 2012 by Felis
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