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

by Jennifer Egan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,404424940 (3.67)557
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» See also 557 mentions

English (406)  Dutch (7)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (422)
Showing 1-5 of 406 (next | show all)
The visiting 'goon' refers to Time; and in this series of interconnected short stories, time wreaks its havoc on the individuals involved. People age, fall ill and die; make life choices that will shape their existence; and are worked on by those around them. Some get lucky, some end up in the gutter. And even the pretty normal still look back on their youth with yearning - as Alex (now married with kids) suddenly recalls a girl he once dated and is seized with a mad yearning to meet her again and recapture those early days:
"Alex imagined walking into her apartment and finding himself still there - his young self, full of schemes and high standards, with nothing decided yet."
I thought the stories varied somewhat in quality, and didnt glean much from 'Great Rock and Roll Pauses' where the 12 year old narrator tries to represent her home life, and her autistic brother, in a series of graphs and Venn diagrams.
But overall a strong novel, as members of a loosely connected group of acquaintances in the music business go about their often dysfunctional lives. ( )
  starbox | May 29, 2019 |
Fun modern story against backdrop of music business and digital age. Fun story by Jennifer Egan.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
Well-written and quotable but: what's the point? Besides the obvious (that celebrity is fake) I think the real point might be that time eventually does what it's going to do - wears you down AND gives you a second unlikely chance. The opening chapter on Sasha is fantastic, and worth reading as a stand-alone story, but the novel itself was, in the end, disappointing and I can't quite figure out why. The inside cover blurb says, "Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both - and escape the merciless progress of time - in the transporting realms of art and music." Maybe. Weak on redemption, big on self-destruction. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
Follows the lives of Bennie (a former punk rock guy turned record executive) and Sasha (his assistant who likes stealing things) backwards and forwards through time, picking up the lives of several people attached to them in the process.
Meh. Not my usual cuppa. No real, steady plot and no actually likeable characters. I'm not fond of stories in which characters make poor life decisions, which is essentially what happens on a loop in this one. So, I spent most of the book in a constant state of distaste and exasperation. I want to fall in love with the characters in the books I read (or fall in love with hating them), not be generally irritated by them or just mildly loathe them.
I will say that the writing itself is excellent and for this alone it deserves its Pulitzer. ( )
  electrascaife | Apr 5, 2019 |
I have just been reading through a lot of friend reviews of this book, which made me realise that everything I wanted to say has already been said more eloquently, so I'll try to keep this one fairly short.

I found this a very enjoyable read, and unusually consistent given the premise that each chapter focuses on a different character, some of them narrate for themselves and others use an omniscient narrator. The order in which the chapters are presented is very non-linear (covering a time span of over 40 years, some in the near future), but there is always at least one character linking each to its predecessor, so it doesn't read like a collection of independent stories. Egan writes engagingly and perceptively and is often quite funny. There are also a couple of bolder departures, particularly the chapter which is a child's diary formatted as a PowerPoint-style presentation.

Music is a central theme, as is time, as the expectations and dreams of the characters are confounded by events and changing responsibilities. There were a couple of things I was less keen on - I don't like omniscient narrators who present future events as pithy asides, and the New York backdrop got a bit samey, but overall I found this a very enjoyable book. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 406 (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)
 

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer Eganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Karjalainen, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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)

» see all 14 descriptions

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