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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

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5,334382823 (3.68)477
Member:KatrinkaV
Title:A Visit from the Goon Squad
Authors:Jennifer Egan
Info:Anchor (2011), Edition: 1, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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

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» See also 477 mentions

English (366)  Dutch (7)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (382)
Showing 1-5 of 366 (next | show all)
This book has an interesting format: each chapter tells something about a different person, and, while all the people are related in some way, the stories are not necessarily related and are not in sequential order. The characters were all human and stories were all well-written, but the book as a whole just didn't do it for me. I know I'm in the minority on this, but the book never took hold of me. I never once thought of the book once I had finished it - in fact, I only remembered to write this review because I signed in to write another review and saw that this was still on my "currently reading" list. ( )
  kathleenbarber | Aug 8, 2016 |
Sasha is a kleptomaniac who desperately wants to get her life together. Her boss Bennie is struggling to re-define himself after his divorce. A Visit from the Goon Squad tells snippets of both their stories as well as those of the many people connected to their lives - a college friend, a career mentor, a high school bandmate, a now-distant uncle, an ex-con brother-in-law, and so forth and so on. Each character has his or her own chapter (although it's not always immediately clear who is speaking), and each chapter has its own style. Rather than moving chronologically (or with any kind of logic really), the reader goes back and forth between the past, the contemporary, and the future with each new chapter. In many ways, this book is more like a series of interconnected stories than a novel. Because it is not by any means traditional, this book definitely isn't for everyone. Honestly, while I was reading it, I was at first a teeny little bit bored by the beginning, then I was enjoying it by the third or fourth chapter, but it wasn't until I got to the last chapter and the powerful ending that I realized just how much I liked the book.

Seeing all the characters in their individual stories gave the reader a richer experience but also in some ways made it more difficult to get to know each character as you only spent a little bit of time with them. The cast of characters was diverse, although each had his or her own psychological or moral issue; the characters were not likable per se, but they were certainly interesting. The story covers a wide range of issues from drug culture and the power of music to fears of a police state and an inauthentic future dominated by technology with little real social interaction. Egan is certainly very talented and writes in a variety of voices. The most interesting of these was the disembodied first-person "you" chapter from Rob and the presentation/slideshow chapter from Alison. This book begs to be read in a book group (like I did, which helped to really pick up on all the connections and nuances) and to be read a second time to see how it all comes together once you've discovered how the book works. If you're okay with tackling something a little bit outside of the norm, I highly recommend this book. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Aug 7, 2016 |
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. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
A Visit From the Goon Squad is a set of loosely tied together stories that connect interrelated characters centered around the music business. Lou, a teenage coke addict, later becomes a friend of bass player, Bennie. Bennie later becomes a music producer and hires Sasha, a kleptomaniac. She sleeps with Alex, who much later ends up handling the comeback of Bennie's high school buddy, Scott. There are numerous more linked sections involving the same main characters as well as numerous peripheral characters. Each section of the book is told from the viewpoint of a different character. I don't really think I'm the audience the author intended when she wrote this book. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the social commentary parts of the stories and the author's use of a PowerPoint as a storytelling strategy was extremely creative. Some of the relationships were very confusing. Bennie and Sasha were the most interesting of the characters. I think the author did a great job of putting together an extremely creative concept but I kept putting it down. The fact that I kept picking it back up again leads me to believe that in the end, I cared more for the story than I expected. " ( )
1 vote Olivermagnus | Jun 16, 2016 |
I really thought I would like this book, it won awards, had decent reviews and the first chapter was really good. Unfortunately, it's all down hill from there. I usually have no problem picking a book up after a few days, or even weeks, and remembering right where I left off. This book flops between so many characters and time periods that I found myself lost quite a few times. I was even disappointed that I wasn't given much of a chance to like or dislike any of the characters as I think that is an important part of a good book. You become almost invested in the characters you are reading about, you care about what happens to them. Sadly, I could not care about the characters in this book. ( )
  Ashly_Cupit | Jun 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 366 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:15 -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)

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