Black Box

Jennifer Egan

Conservative + traditional Liberal + artistic
Impulsive + spontaneous Organized + hard working
Contemplative Engaged w/ outside
Competitive Team working + trusting
Laid back + relaxed Easily stressed + emotional

Excerpt from Black Box , read the full text


People rarely look the way you expect them to, even when you’ve seen pictures.
The first thirty seconds in a person’s presence are the most important.
If you’re having trouble perceiving and projecting, focus on projecting.
Necessary ingredients for a successful projection: giggles; bare legs; shyness.
The goal is to be both irresistible and invisible.
When you succeed, a certain sharpness will go out of his eyes.


Some powerful men actually call their beauties “Beauty.”
Counter to reputation, there is a deep camaraderie among beauties.
If your Designated Mate is widely feared, the beauties at the house party where you’ve gone undercover to meet him will be especially kind.
Kindness feels good, even when it’s based on a false notion of your identity and purpose.


Posing as a beauty means not reading what you would like to read on a rocky shore in the South of France.
Sunlight on bare skin can be as nourishing as food.
Even a powerful man will be briefly self-conscious when he first disrobes to his bathing suit.
It is technically impossible for a man to look better in a Speedo than in swim trunks.
If you love someone with dark skin, white skin looks drained of something vital.


When you know that a person is violent and ruthless, you will see violent ruthlessness in such basic things as his swim stroke.
“What are you doing?” from your Designated Mate amid choppy waves after he has followed you into the sea may or may not betray suspicion.
Your reply—“Swimming”—may or may not be perceived as sarcasm.
“Shall we swim together toward those rocks?” may or may not be a question.
“All that way?” will, if spoken correctly, sound ingenuous.
“We’ll have privacy there” may sound unexpectedly ominous.