Sunday writer: Jennifer Egan

I have chosen the Pulitzer-prize winning writer, Jennifer Egan for this Sunday because she has just published a short story/poem on Twitter and the writing is brilliant and the medium is perfect. As others have noted, it is kind of refreshing to see a big serious writer embrace Twitter, too:

Some authors have a dismissive attitude towards Twitter – Jonathan Franzen called it “the ultimate irresponsible medium” – but Egan seems happy to embrace the social-networking site.

“Black Box” is up here on The New Yorker but has been published progressively, line by line, on Twitter. There is a link to the final installment on Twitter at the bottom of the piece on The New Yorker. Read it all. One tiny warning about the piece – the sex scenes talk about dissociation, which some of you might find a tiny bit unpleasant but otherwise the piece is not distressing. I know writers don’t usually lend themselves to this Sunday post series but this work of Egan’s does and it is really too good for me to not want to share it and she does write about women so very well.

Egan has won a lot of prizes, including the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and she is particularly well known for her more recent books, “The Keep” and “A Visit From The Goon Squad”. Egan, herself, understands how important her achievements are for women writers as a group, as she says:

My advice for young female writers would be to shoot high and not cower.

She recently opened up an interesting conversation/controversy about ‘chick lit’ too, that you can read about here. Her writing is really dazzlingly clever. Here is a tiny taste of “Black Box”…


People rarely look the way you expect them
to, even when you’ve seen pictures.

The first thirty seconds in a person’s
presence are the most important.

If you’re having trouble perceiving and
projecting, focus on projecting.

Necessary ingredients for a successful
projection: giggles; bare legs; shyness.

The goal is to be both irresistible and

When you succeed, a certain sharpness
will go out of his eyes.


Categories: arts & entertainment, culture wars, gender & feminism, media

Tags: , ,

6 replies

  1. Reading it as an almost complete poem with a quick dash to Twitter to get the last bit was amazing. Reading it line by line on Twitter would have been exquisite torture, waiting for the next tweet to come.
    *I’m still worrying about her*

  2. I don’t see the link to Twitter? Is it assuming you already have a twitter account? (I don’t).

  3. @AotQ – if you click on Bluemilk’s link now it takes you to the full poem. If you get to the bit where it tells you who the illustrator is you have reached the end. You don’t need a twitter account. They must have updated the page in the last few hours.

  4. Thank you for linking Black Box. I really enjoyed it! I’m definitely going to be looking out for Egan’s work from now on!

  5. I agree with Mindy that following this on Twitter would have been quite excrutiating. It is a provocative and unsettling piece of writing, and caused me to a) miss a couple of must-do things this morning and b) comment here for the first time.

    Thank you for the link, and thank you all for the many thoughtful posts and comments I have been reading here for some time now.

  6. I’m so pleased people are enjoying Black Box as much as I did.
    Also, kvd, nice to see your comment and I see your point, too, about how suspenseful the writing was for a twitter medium.

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