“My eyes still shut, I reached for the iron railing. curled my fingers around it and climbed over. Now I was balancing the narrow heels of my high-heeled shoes on maybe two inches of concrete still left to stand on. I gripped the railing behind me. The wind pummeled me, as if I were strapped to the prow of an icebreaking ship. Twenty-five stories of dazzling emptiness sucked at me from below. My head was spinning. Don’t open your eyes. Chin down. Let them see you.
I let go of the railing and jumped.
It felt like an instant later that I hit concrete. I lay there, amazed to find myself conscious. Or was I dead? I was, had to be — how could I survive a fall of twenty-five stories? And yet I was conscious, or at least able to think. I lay in a heap, testing my crumpled limbs with tiny, fragile movements. When I opened my eyes, I saw double, as I had after the accident. I seemed to be looking at a pane of glass. Light spilled from behind it and there was noise, faint, intermittent noise…voices. A voice. I lay on the pavement, my eyes open, and listened, trying to understand, Deberr…sister…chillrrn…because the voice was familiar, it was the voice of a friend, an acquaintance or possibly a lover. No…no. It was the basso voice of Robert Stack, the iron-haired narrator of Unsolved Mysteries.
I was on someone else’s balcony.”
Look At Me makes me feel smart. Charlotte Swenson is a smart-ass, confident, aging model that uses big words and is involved in a car accident she has barely any memory of, but is reminded of constantly by the eighty titanium screws that have been implanted in her face in order to reassemble it. Nearly everyone Charlotte knew before the accident sees her as a strange after; her looks have changed, drastically.
Jennifer Egan delves much deeper than physical appearance in her novel, combing through the past and present of a woman that for most of her life had relied on her looks to get what she wanted. While still very beautiful, Charlotte Swenson is given the rare opportunity to reinvent herself. (Who wouldn’t pounce on that chance?)
Egan also jumps to the POV of several other characters, who are somehow intertwined with the main and are also struggling to find themselves. (Michael West is overwhelmed by his first Big Mac…Trust me, it’s worth reading.)
This is the first novel by Egan that I have read (at the suggestion of a professor) and so far, I am not disappointed. Her sarcasm is intelligent, and Charlotte is a confident bitch – I can relate.