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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
4,5663271,051 (3.7)434
Member:DFlanders
Title:A Visit from the Goon Squad
Authors:Jennifer Egan
Info:Anchor (2011), Edition: 1, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:1d - Forty's, 2013, 2a - Literature

Work details

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

  1. 82
    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (ominogue)
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    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (souloftherose)
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» See also 434 mentions

English (313)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (327)
Showing 1-5 of 313 (next | show all)
An excellent book of short stories that have characters in common. I have recommended this book to several people. It is one of the few books I have re-read. ( )
  LegalGoddess | Nov 15, 2014 |
While reading Egan's book, I found myself noticing that drugs were more or less the common thread between the overlapping and interwoven personalities that come and go in the stories. And no, not just the level one would expect when dealing largely with musicians, and rock musicians at that, but drugs are often the motive force, the critical component without which the story lacks the peaks and valleys of it's arc(s).

Whether popping E before going for a swim, a coke habit requiring the complete restructuring of a face, drugs causing burn out and homelessness, the subject matters are subjugated and harnessed by the yoke of drug use. I'm not convinced that's what Egan was going for...and yes, I know there's drug abuse in the music industry, but it seems an over-worn trope.

The writing crisp and lively, often times to the point of irritation. We meet characters at one point in their lives, then spin away only to meet them again far younger, or far older. We're invited to draw comparisons in their lives (and often to judge whether or not their lives were a "success") and to draw conclusions from that. But what irritates is the overuse of introducing the reader to a character, then immediately telling us within a single line what will happen to them later before continuing on with the story. It might just be me, but after one use, this effect loses it's novelty and begins to approach a lazy form of foreshadowing, as if rather than building a sense of dread culminating with the fatal blow, it's just easier to tip the cards at the beginning, and let your own internal foreshadowing play. It's terrific at first, but eventually it felt cheap. I also felt there were repeated points being hammered home, and those points were overwhelmingly negative and pessimistic. Again, not a new thing to be found in this type of literature but almost a little overdone in fact. It's a decent novel, and the writer has tons of talent, no question. But perhaps a little self-indulgent. Perhaps I blame the editing more than the composition. ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
While reading Egan's book, I found myself noticing that drugs were more or less the common thread between the overlapping and interwoven personalities that come and go in the stories. And no, not just the level one would expect when dealing largely with musicians, and rock musicians at that, but drugs are often the motive force, the critical component without which the story lacks the peaks and valleys of it's arc(s).

Whether popping E before going for a swim, a coke habit requiring the complete restructuring of a face, drugs causing burn out and homelessness, the subject matters are subjugated and harnessed by the yoke of drug use. I'm not convinced that's what Egan was going for...and yes, I know there's drug abuse in the music industry, but it seems an over-worn trope.

The writing crisp and lively, often times to the point of irritation. We meet characters at one point in their lives, then spin away only to meet them again far younger, or far older. We're invited to draw comparisons in their lives (and often to judge whether or not their lives were a "success") and to draw conclusions from that. But what irritates is the overuse of introducing the reader to a character, then immediately telling us within a single line what will happen to them later before continuing on with the story. It might just be me, but after one use, this effect loses it's novelty and begins to approach a lazy form of foreshadowing, as if rather than building a sense of dread culminating with the fatal blow, it's just easier to tip the cards at the beginning, and let your own internal foreshadowing play. It's terrific at first, but eventually it felt cheap. I also felt there were repeated points being hammered home, and those points were overwhelmingly negative and pessimistic. Again, not a new thing to be found in this type of literature but almost a little overdone in fact. It's a decent novel, and the writer has tons of talent, no question. But perhaps a little self-indulgent. Perhaps I blame the editing more than the composition. ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
Good book, more a collection of loosely related short stories than a novel unto its own. ( )
  Egon_Spengler | Oct 26, 2014 |
What a load of self-indulgent rubbish. I got fifty pages in before I just had to give up - the people were absolutely insufferable, the style was terribly knowing and contrived, and in general this was a complete exercise in trying to win an award rather than write a book. Also, I'm fed up with reading books that include weird, excessive, references to male genitalia. I'm not a prude but between this and the swaddled penis incident, I'm starting to worry a little bit for the sake of my sanity. ( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 313 (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?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
D'une écriture acérée , Jennifer Egan dépeint les compromissions , les faiblesses et le courage d'une galerie de personnages inoubliables .
Haiku summary

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 3 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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