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A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)

by Jennifer Egan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,651469937 (3.67)622
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 622 mentions

English (452)  Dutch (7)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Turkish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  All languages (469)
Showing 1-5 of 452 (next | show all)
I really didn't want to like this book. I wanted to write it off as another depressing trip from starry eyed post-college highs to grounded and defeated middle age, wrapped too neatly in 21st century realism. Instead, her tender approach to failed 20-something delusions of grandeur and the long trek back to self respect and redemption was delicately woven between the time-hopping narrative. My only objection is the presence that 21st century realism that the Iowa workshop has worked hard to cement into the status quo. This isn't the right place to begin explaining my qualms with that, so I'll just say that A Visit from the Goon Squad is lovely, warm, and a little sad. ( )
  MaryJeanPhillips | Jun 22, 2022 |
Words can’t express my disappointment after reading a book I looked forward to reading for years. This might be the first time I've assigned a 1.5 rating to a Pulitzer-winning tome… and the first time I couldn’t bring myself to finish such a widely acclaimed work. I quit two-thirds of the way through. Not a single character resonated with me. I also found it difficult to follow the plot — but that’s probably because my mind kept wandering. I admit that Egan is a talented writer. The plot had potential. But long story short, I simply can't fathom the rave reviews. ( )
  brianinbuffalo | Jun 13, 2022 |
2022 book #37. I'd read the sequel to this "The Candy House" recently, which I loved. This book is also very good. Much of the same characters only earlier in their lives. More a collection of interrelated short stories loosely connected to the music ind. Won 2011 Pulitzer Prize. ( )
  capewood | Jun 9, 2022 |
Impossible to describe and impossible to put down! ( )
  VashonJim | May 3, 2022 |
4.5 stars. I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did, devouring it in 2 days. I was blown away by Egan's craft and her experimentation with voice and point-of-view. It's amazing how cohesive the finished product felt and also how short. If you cut the PowerPoint presentation (or just reduce it to its base text), it's what I consider a short novel -- well under 300 pages. And yet the characters are so intricately constructed. So much depth in so few brush strokes. There is a faint whiff of that formal MFA Writer vibe that sometimes bores me, but somehow it rose above that academic purity and felt more raw and real. There is a real meta-narrative to the whole structure, which feels almost too strained, too cognizant of its craftiness, but somehow it doesn’t get bogged down in its own cleverness even as it expects you to follow along with the trail of breadcrumbs it leaves for you. I think that is because each chapter was a beautiful, stand-alone, emotional roller coaster of a story that needs nothing else. The music theme didn't mean much to me, and I feel like some of the more obvious intellectual metaphors went over my head (the focus on songs with pauses in the PP, was that an allusion to the pauses in narrative that takes us away from the central figures, Bennie and Sasha?). The musicality of it was stressed when first published and I think that turned me off to picking it up. I didn't want to read a book about depressed aging musicians. I didn't (and usually don't) care much about or connect with the cultural zeitgeist surrounding music, especially Gen X-er punk. But in the end I was caught up in tracking her choices of POV and diction. Every few pages I found myself delighted by her novel application of familiar verbs and precise diction to so clearly define a character. Of course, lots of the authors I love and respect do this, but for a very contemporary novel, I found her surprising me more often than usual. I enjoyed Powers' Overstory, but it didn't constantly delight me with his word choices. I couldn't believe she was still diving into new characters in the last 1/4 of the book and holding my attention. But time kind of works like that, eh? Just when we thought we've moved from A to B and are heading to a depressing C, we realize it's just someone else's A. I wonder if I had read this when it was published (11 years ago? 12?) a few years after I graduated college if I would have appreciated it as much. Now, in my late 30s, about to leave behind that strange gap between youth and middle age, the themes of aging and regret and mishmoshes of memories hit me in the gut in a way I don't think they would have before. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 452 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer Eganprimary authorall editionscalculated
de Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karjalainen, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortega, RoxanaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velina, MihaelaTranslatorsecondary 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?"
“I'm always happy," Sasha said. "Sometimes I just forget.”
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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