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A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)

by Jennifer Egan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Goon Squad (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,295505974 (3.67)662
Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.… (more)
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» See also 662 mentions

English (484)  Dutch (7)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  Turkish (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (504)
Showing 1-5 of 484 (next | show all)
One of the best pieces of experimental literary fiction I have ever read. ( )
  dogboi | Sep 16, 2023 |
I really enjoyed how the stories are structured: linked, but also individual, with each one leading into a different character's life. I did not care for the powerpoint presentation in the middle of the book, as it did not tell me any kind of story, and seemed like something that should have stayed in the author's notebook rather than the final manuscript. ( )
  rv1988 | Aug 29, 2023 |
She plays with form and that is probably why she received the Pulitzer for this novel. The unique metaphor populated first part of the book kept me guessing how these individual stories connected. I loved the pop music background. Unfortunately I became frustrated. Then there is section with diagrams and outlining that becomes incomprehensible. (Maybe reading a live book rather than kindle might make a difference) I was struck by the reference to pauses in music. She referenced “Bernadette” by the Four Tops along with a Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie song. This is that unusual moment when there is a pause in the song. It can be quite effective when you are listening because your world halts for a moment. What this has to do with the novel I didn’t figure out.

( )
  GordonPrescottWiener | Aug 24, 2023 |
Here's what I wrote in 2011 about this read: "Really quite engaging. Full of characters full of human errors, vulnerabilities, and wills to survive and even occassionally thrive. Hugely recognized by critics; glad to read it. There's a theme about aging in here (in addition to the music theme), or am I only now picking up on these things (as the last chapter of Kornel Esti dealt with life's good fight and inevitable final conclusion)?" ( )
  MGADMJK | Aug 23, 2023 |
Are drugs still glamorous? Because I thought we'd pretty much worked through all that stuff. I'm not saying that drug use is passe, but I just thought we'd realised that it's fun for those involved and just boring for everybody else. You know? Sure, you're feeling better than you did all day - that's because you're an alcoholic - but you didn't just get twice as charming, you got half as self-aware.

And is rock and roll still glamorous? I mean, airports and waking up late and eating food you didn't cook yourself. I've done that, so it can't be glamorous.

Apart from the above, the main problem with this book is that there are just too many stories and too many characters. It's composed of twelve parts, each taken from the lives of characters who are connected in tenuous and less-tenuous ways. A woman and her employer, who is married to someone in the next story, who has a son in the next story, who went to school with the woman in the first story... But the trouble is that twelve such disparate stories introduces too many characters. I kept thinking, "Wait, I should know that guy," or, "Didn't he get married." Of course it all happens across about thirty years and doesn't follow much of a chronological order, so I probably should have known that guy, and he probably does, or did, get married later.

So how is that different to a short story collection? Well there is knowledge assumed about the characters that helps relate to the story. And you are supposed to care about some of the characters, but as you don't know who is going to crop up again and who isn't, how are you supposed to know who to care about? So you care a little bit about everybody, which gets exhausting, especially when they die.

The writing is solid, though, without being quite lively enough for the subject matter, and there were a couple of moments that drew me right in. So not a waste of time, just a bit much hard work for what it offered. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 484 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Egan, Jenniferprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karjalainen, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortega, RoxanaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velina, MihaelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zeltmann, HeideÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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'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
For Peter M.,
with gratitude
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It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel.
"Time's a goon, right? Isn't that the expression?"
“I'm always happy," Sasha said. "Sometimes I just forget.”
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.

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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 .
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