In the new July/August 2011 issue of the Gazette you’ll find a feature article on Jennifer Egan C’85, who last appeared in the pages of this blog a few months ago when she won the Pulitzer Prize for her latest novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad.
While talking to the Gazette, Egan revealed that, as a Penn pre-freshman, writing wasn’t actually on her agenda, and in fact she applied to Penn intending to become an archaeologist—but had a slight change of plans. From the story:
After her senior year of high school, she deferred coming to Penn for a year so she could join an archeological dig in southern Illinois. “Which I paid to go on,” she recalls. After some time uncovering pottery shards and projectile points of the Mississippian Indians, she’d mentally switched her major before actually arriving at college. “I discovered that my notions of archeology were pretty fantastical,” she says.
For an expanded version of this story, you can check out the recent Summer Fiction edition of The New Yorker, where Egan herself has written a rather entertaining essay about her (very) brief career as an adolescent archaeologist. Happily, her essay is available online.
Not surprisingly, Egan has been popping up more frequently in headlines since the Pulitzer announcement. The Atlantic recently ran a “What I Read” column from Egan, a semi-regular feature that poses the question: “How do other people deal with the torrent of information that pours down on us all? Do they have some secret? Perhaps.” In her answer, Egan, whose latest novel included a chapter told entirely in PowerPoint slides, reveals herself as something of an analog reader, who marks up her paper copy of the New York Times with post-it notes.