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Jennifer Egan and Ivan Kreilkamp

Sep 16, 2021

Fiction as Streaming, Genre as Portal

A Discussion with Jennifer Egan and Ivan Kreilkamp

New Books Network 2021

We are just delighted to welcome you back to the second season of Novel Dialogue, putting scholars and writers together to chew the fat, and spill secrets of the trade. It begins with a bang; who better to interview the prolific and prize-winning American novelist Jennifer Egan than Ivan Kreilkamp? The distinguished Indiana Victorianist showed his Egan expertise last year in his witty book, A Visit from the Goon Squad Reread.

Their conversation with John ranges widely over Egan’s oeuvre–not to mention 18th and 19th century literature. Trollope, Richardson and Fielding are praised and compared to modern phenomena like TikTok and gamers streaming (including gamers streaming chess, a very special instance of getting inside someone else’s thought process). The PowerPoint chapter in Goon Squad gets special treatment, and tantalizing details from her Egan’s forthcoming The Candy House make an appearance. Egan discusses her authorial impulse towards camouflage, her play with genre’s relationship to specialized lingos and argots–and the way a genre’s norms and structure can function like a “lifeline” and also a “portal.” Her backyard post-writing treat is also revealed: perfect for the pandemic.

N.B. John bungled two Egan publication dates in his introduction; in reality, Emerald City and Other Stories came out in 1996 and The Invisible Circus in 1995.

Mentioned in the Episode

  • Jennifer Egan: Visit from the Goon Squad; Look at Me: Manhattan Beach: The Keep
  • Samuel Richardson: Clarissa: Pamela
  • Henry Fielding, Shamela
  • Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  • Patrick O’Brian (e.g. Master and Commander)
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

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Aarthi Vadde and John Plotz

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: aarthi.vadde@duke.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.


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