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At this point, Egan is suspended ten feet above the floor of the Barnes and Noble coffee shop. A customer looking at the right angle might mistake her for a figure in the “great writers” mural that runs above the coffee counter—a hip, progressive addition, really on the pulse—but no, Jennifer Egan is floating in the air because her telekinetic force field, and the store’s customers, reduced to quivering lumps by the psychic spillover, aren’t having any thoughts at all. Even in this vegetable state they inch ever closer to the display featuring discounted copies of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.
“I can’t believe I left Manhattan for this,” Jonathan Franzen thought across the room at Egan, gazing morosely out of the cafe’s window, eyes searching in vain for the tail feather of a Northern Bobwhite or the delicate, fluttering breast of a Scarlet Tanager; instead he found only mistakes, various facets of the American delusion. “Can you sense their locations? It would probably be easier without all the electromagnetic radiation caused by cell phones these days...”
Egan ignored Franzen’s thoughts (though they were immediately blogged about by The New Yorker’s Page-Turner) and continued to crunch the massive amounts of data she was downloading from the internet with her mind. “That’s odd,” she thought to herself loudly, “someone keeps crashing McNally Jackson’s wi-fi by torrenting huge amounts of Hustler.pdfs. Shteyngart for sure...”
As 1s and 0s streamed through Egan’s mind, Joshua Ferris sat in the corner, quietly making an intricate tower out of Dilbert books, also with his mind.