"A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Mustang, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. Mustang

    Mustang Gold Member

    Jan 15, 2010
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    39° 44 mins 21 secs N, 104° 59 mins 5 secs W
    This is a modern-day story of personal and professional success and failure and trying to figure stuff out along the way in 'life's unpredictable journey,' with plenty of truly funny and genuinely tragic moments along the way. I know that sounds incredibly lame, and I almost reconsidered saying it at all in this review, but it's true of this book none the less. So, I just let it stand. If anyone reads (or has read) this book and takes exception to that description, feel free to say so.

    Actually, I should say that the book is a series of stories since many chapters are narrated by a different characters. One chapter is actually narrated by a twelve-year old girl who does so in what is essentially a power point presentation. Chapter 9 is particularly hilarious as it's written while the narrator of that particular story, (a brother of another character), who is a professional writer, is sitting in jail awaiting trial for assaulting a young, vacuous 19 yo movie star he was sent to interview for an entertainment magazine. That chapter is even written in a wholly different style, reflecting the character's ability as a professional writer as well as his dubious mental state.

    The main character is a man named Bennie Salazar. He was once a member of of a rock band at an early age, and went on to become a wealthy music promoter with a big office and all the trappings of success, including the problems and hassles that come with it. Another main character is Bennie's executive assistant, Sasha, who makes four separate appearances at three different ages.

    Many of the characters appear more than once at different ages, or they're at least they're referred to at a different points in time and at different ages. Those time frames run from at least the early 1970's until the 2020's. Additionally, the stories (chapters) aren't sequential in time. However, the last chapter is the only one that's set in the future. But it's not as confusing as it sounds even though the reader is often left to figure out some of the details of age and time based on limited previous information.

    Because of the way the book is structured, it works both as a series of short stories, standing on their own, or as a novel.

    The book won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. At 274 pp, it's a pretty fast read, especially when you take into consideration the chapter that's written as a power point presentation.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012

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