Books: The Myriad Faces Of Rage

With its tabloid urgency and brainy commentary, Look at Me is an unsettling reflection of our times

The characters in Jennifer Egan's intriguing new novel Look at Me (Doubleday; 415 pages; $24.95) grope for something substantial in the blizzard of images and information that make up contemporary life. At the center is Charlotte Swenson, an aging fashion model whose face must be reconstructed, with 80 titanium screws, after a pulverizing car accident. Though she looks perfectly normal, her former cronies in Manhattan's trendy night spots no longer recognize her, and her old life of amped-up photo shoots and weekends spent adorning the yachts of rich men slips away.

Meanwhile, back in Swenson's hometown of Rockford, Ill., another Charlotte,...

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