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A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
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A Visit from the Goon Squad (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Jennifer Egan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,291None1,149 (3.71)418
Member:sinki
Title:A Visit from the Goon Squad
Authors:Jennifer Egan
Info:Anchor (2011), Edition: 1, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (2010)

  1. 40
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: The interconnectedness of life
  2. 62
    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (ominogue)
  3. 30
    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (sydamy)
  4. 52
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both novels are occasionally experimental in style with interconnected short stories. They are also both very good.
  5. 10
    Jazz by Toni Morrison (Othemts)
  6. 10
    Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson (melmore)
    melmore: Both novels are concerned with the punk scene in the early 80s, both feature lost and wounded protagonists, both trace relationships across decades.
  7. 10
    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (mcenroeucsb)
  8. 11
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (mcenroeucsb)
  9. 00
    The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace (hubertguillaud)
  10. 00
    Long Division by Kiese Laymon (hairball)
    hairball: They seem like some sort of bookends.
  11. 11
    The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (mcenroeucsb)
  12. 00
    The Exes by Pagan Kennedy (melmore)
  13. 00
    A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (jbvm)
  14. 00
    There But For The by Ali Smith (Laura400)
  15. 12
    Ulysses by James Joyce (Othemts)
  16. 01
    The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (ShortStoryLover)
    ShortStoryLover: Both books are novels in stories in which each chapter can stand on it's own, but when you read the whole there is a larger narrative arc to the stories.
  17. 01
    Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche (Bigrider7)
    Bigrider7: Each book is about musical performers who are struggling to find their identities and understand their place in a world without fame.
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» See also 418 mentions

English (283)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (297)
Showing 1-5 of 283 (next | show all)
I can't believe it took me so long to read this. An absolutely captivating book. As a writer, it made me want to play with formatting and POV. Inspiring and beautiful and surprising. ( )
  thereaderscommute | Apr 13, 2014 |
I can't believe it took me so long to read this. An absolutely captivating book. As a writer, it made me want to play with formatting and POV. Inspiring and beautiful and surprising. ( )
  thereaderscommute | Apr 13, 2014 |
I was initially pointed in the direction of this book by someone who's a fan of short story cycles (collections of short stories which can be read separately but are linked by various contrivances, such as characters, place, time etc.). I like them too and this one is a great example of the genre if you can call it that. There were times when I found the disconnections as disorienting as the connections were refreshing, and because the characters' stories range backwards and forwards through time, it was occasionally disconcerting. It's brilliantly written and some of the imagery was breathtaking - there's a description of a man's waning relationship with his originally much loved wife which uses the metaphor of him taking a large piece of paper and folding it in half, then later folding it in half again, which epitomises both the deliberate nature of his distancing himself from the relationship and the gradually diminishing stock of his emotional investment in the marriage. There were parts that sometimes seemed too contrived, where there were obvious signs of the author straining for effect, heavy-handed use of coincidence and although lots of reviewers have raved about the powerpoint presentation section, it seemed like the ultimate affectation to me and completely out of place. But it won the Pulitzer Prize and there are passages in it of pure brilliance. ( )
  Anne_Green | Apr 5, 2014 |
Normally I'm not the biggest fan of short story collections. Not to say I don't like individual short stories. I do, and sometimes very much so, but reading through an entire collection—unless they are by a beloved author, or an anthology of great writers—can be tiring for me. I appreciate the time investment needed to read a full-length novel. I like that by the time I get to know the characters (which could take 50 pages, if not more) I still have three-quarters (or seven-eights or fifteen-sixteenths) left to go in the book where I can enjoy them. Short stories often let me go all too soon, and I bemoan the loss of a character that I was just getting invested in. So, needless to say, I was a little curious about this book which had garnered so many great reviews and wondered if I'd like it.

And oh my yes, I loved it. First of all, the interwoven-ness of the stories was a major pull. Done with one story and you wish you didn't have to leave that character behind? Don't worry. He or she will pop up (in major or minor ways) in at least some of the other stories in the collection. For those, like me, who enjoyed this well enough to read twice (so far) I would heartily recommend this site (http://goonsquadtimelines.weebly.com) which nicely constructs a timeline of the characters in events so you can see how they are connected. Sadly, it's based on the US hardback version (for page number references) but, again, if you're like me you'll buy a US-HB copy and give away your paperback to a friend. That way you can use this site like Cliff's Notes as you read through it again.

Second, Egan has the most lovely writing style and voice. Delicate and confident at the same time. Beautiful. These stories stand on their own just as sheer works of great writing, even if they didn't have the rest of the book to add to their depth.

I see that I've given this 5 stars, and I'll stick with that as my gut reaction after reading it, but I do have a few very minor quibbles. The PowerPoint chapter came across a little cutesy. I've read that some people found that bold and daring and postmodern (or something), and I won't try to argue with that. I get what she was doing, and I will even agree that it worked, but it went on just a bit longer than I would have liked. And the final chapter, taking place in the future, felt a little like she wanted to do that to book-end a set of stories that also ventured into the past so the future was the next logical place to take it. Fine. But I didn't really work for me. I think she got a little tied up in what the future would look like and less so in the characters, which had been her strong suit up until then. But it wasn't a major blemish, and the rest of the book holds up those two weak spots quite well. ( )
  invisiblelizard | Apr 2, 2014 |
Going great guns but petered out a bit in the final pages! ( )
  LeeFishman | Mar 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 283 (next | show all)
It is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories, but something in between: a series of chapters featuring interlocking characters at different points in their lives, whose individual voices combine to a create a symphonic work that uses its interconnected form to explore ideas about human interconnectedness. This is a difficult book to summarise, but a delight to read, gradually distilling a medley out of its polyphonic, sometimes deliberately cacophonous voices.
 
Readers will be pleased to discover that the star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre-bending new school is alive in well in this graceful yet wild novel. We begin in contemporaryish New York with kleptomaniac Sasha and her boss, rising music producer Bennie Salazar, before flashing back, with Bennie, to the glory days of Bay Area punk rock, and eventually forward, with Sasha, to a settled life. By then, Egan has accrued tertiary characters, like Scotty Hausmann, Bennie's one-time bandmate who all but dropped out of society, and Alex, who goes on a date with Sasha and later witnesses the future of the music industry. Egan's overarching concerns are about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn. Or as one character asks, How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about? Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same.
added by sduff222 | editPublishers Weekly (Jan 31, 2011)
 
Jennifer Egan’s new novel is a moving humanistic saga, an enormous nineteenth-century-style epic brilliantly disguised as ironic postmodern pastiche. It has thirteen chapters, each an accomplished short story in its own right; characters who meander in and out of these chapters, brushing up against one another’s lives in unexpected ways; a time frame that runs from 1979 to the near, but still sci-fi, future; jolting shifts in time and points of view—first person, second person, third person, Powerpoint person; and a social background of careless and brutal sex, careless and brutal drugs, and carefully brutal punk rock. All of this might be expected to depict the broken, alienated angst of modern life as viewed through the postmodern lens of broken, alienated irony. Instead, Egan gives us a great, gasping, sighing, breathing whole.
 
Although shredded with loss, “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is often darkly, rippingly funny. Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Will Blythe (Jul 8, 2010)
 
If Jennifer Egan is our reward for living through the self-conscious gimmicks and ironic claptrap of postmodernism, then it was all worthwhile. Her new novel, "A Visit From the Goon Squad," is a medley of voices -- in first, second and third person -- scrambled through time and across the globe with a 70-page PowerPoint presentation reproduced toward the end.

I know that sounds like the headache-inducing, aren't-I-brilliant tedium that sends readers running to nonfiction, but Egan uses all these stylistic and formal shenanigans to produce a deeply humane story about growing up and growing old in a culture corroded by technology and marketing. And what's best, every movement of this symphony of boomer life plays out through the modern music scene, a white-knuckle trajectory of cool, from punk to junk to whatever might lie beyond. My only complaint is that "A Visit From the Goon Squad" doesn't come with a CD.
added by zhejw | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Jun 16, 2010)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer Eganprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ortega, RoxanaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Poets claim that we recapture for a moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden in which we used to live in our youth. But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success. It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years.
The unknown element of the lives of other people is like that of nature, which each fresh scientific discovery merely reduces but does not abolish. - Marcel Proust, In search of lost time
Dedication
For Peter M., with gratitude
First words
It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel.
Quotations
"Time's a goon, right? Isn't that the expression?"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307477479, Paperback)

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

National Bestseller
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Working side-by-side for a record label, former punk rocker Bennie Salazar and the passionate Sasha hide illicit secrets from one another while interacting with a motley assortment of equally troubled people from 1970s San Francisco to the post-war future.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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