A Visit from the Goon Squad (Paperback)
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DescriptionJennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life - divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house - and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang - who thrived and who faltered - and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie's catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou's far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. "A Visit from the Goon Squad" is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, 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. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.
- Published: 01 September 2011
- Format: Paperback 349 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781849019910 ISBN 10: 1849019916
- Sales rank: 1,240
Reviews for A Visit from the Goon Squad
Who is the Goon Squad? You'll see.
Jennifer Egan's novel/collection of short stories (pick your preference) is an ultimately nostalgic and somewhat sad exploration of the passing of time. Different characters are presented in separate, yet ultimately connected, short stories with certain people reappearing later on and being foreshadowed in prior chapters.
However, with most characters you are exposed to some of their most poignant moments and then are made privy to the effects these pivotal moments have had later on. It's almost like reading through someone's diary or listening in on a therapy session; you don't get everything about the character's lives, but significant glimpses that get pretty close.
Egan's novel observes these different characters, their youth, their middle age, their dreams and what eventually becomes their reality. She asks the question "How did I get from there to here?"; a question we have all asked at some point. Her writing style is emotive and vivid, and it changes perfectly to suit the differing characters from middle aged men to college students to twelve year old girls; you believe that their voices are authentic.
A story for everyone who has ever wondered at how things can change so much and yet so little at the same time. by H.
A good read
If you've ever felt a little bit lost and wondered where life will take you, Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad is worth a read.
A kleptomaniac, a burnt out record producer and a group of teens discovering sex, drugs and rock n' roll are just a few of the eclectic mix of characters in this award-winning book.
A Visit From The Goon Squad is their coming of age.
Egan writes with wit, care and humour in this interconnected collection of short stories.
She creates a tapestry of characters whose lives evolve and intersect as their stories progress.
A Visit From the Goon Squad visits each character at key turning points in their lives. It explores how we get from A to B, what can happen when life takes a detour and the impact of the passage of time.
As you move from chapter to chapter, pay close attention to the minor characters and names that are mentioned in passing. Chances are they will turn up in a major role later on.
It's fun trying to pick the potential comebacks and discovering what has transpired between one story and the next.
Also, look out for the chapter told entirely in Powerpoint slides - surprisingly, this was my favourite chapter in the book (if only all Powerpoint presentations could be so engaging).
A Visit From The Goon Squad is the recent winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction and the 2011 National Book Critics Award. by Louise Marsh