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A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Book rating: 04 Paperback Corsair

By (author) Jennifer Egan

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  • Publisher: Corsair
  • Format: Paperback | 349 pages
  • Dimensions: 110mm x 176mm x 26mm | 200g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1849019916
  • ISBN 13: 9781849019910
  • Edition statement: Export ed.
  • Sales rank: 1,406

Product description

Jennifer 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.

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Author information

Jennifer Egan is the author of The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn.

Customer reviews

By H. 11 Sep 2012 4

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 Louise Marsh 09 Oct 2011 4

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.

Review quote

A must read. Irresistible. Fiction of the highest quality. Sunday Times. It may be the smartest book you can get your hands on this summer. Los Angeles Times Exhilirating...arresting...brilliant. Turn up the music...and curl up with The Goon Squad. Washington Post A great work of fiction, a profound and glorious exploration of the fullness and complexity of the human condition... An extraordinary new work of fiction. The New York Press Egan's precise, calm underwater prose is a persistent pleasure. Daily Telegraph. A delight. The Observer. A Visit from the Goon Squad [is] an exhilarating, big-hearted, three-headed beast of a story... [A] genius as a writer... We see ourselves in all of Egan's characters because their stories of heartbreak and redemption seem so real they could be our own, regardless of the soundtrack. Such is the stuff great novels are made of. Marie-Claire Clever. Edgy. Groundbreaking... It features characters about whom you come to care deeply as you watch them doing things they shouldn't, acting gloriously, infuriatingly human. The Chicago Tribune A rich and rewarding novel. Philadelphia Inquierer "[Egan is] a boldly intellectual writer who is not afraid to apply her equally powerful intuitive skills to her ambitious projects... While it's a time-trekking, tech-freakin' doozie, the characters' lives and fates claim the story first and foremost, and we are pulled right in... Brilliantly structured, with storylike chapters." Elle Jennifer Egan is a rare bird: an experimental writer with a deep commitment to character, whose fiction is at once intellectually stimulating and moving... It's a tricky book, but in the best way. When I got to the end, I wanted to start from the top again immediately, both to revisit the characters and to understand better how the pieces fit together. Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay. The San Francisco Chronicle 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 and well in this graceful yet wild novel ... powerful. Publishers Weekly (starred review) Sparkling. The Guardian Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time ... a hilarious melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel. -- Donna Seaman Booklist (starred review) Poetry and pathos ... Egan conveys personality so swiftly and with such empathy... Yet she is not a conventional dystopian novelist; distinctions between the virtual and the real may be breaking down in this world, but her characters have recognizable emotions and convictions, which is why their compromises and uncertainties continue to move us... Another ambitious change of pace from talented and visionary Egan, who reinvents the novel for the 21st century while affirming its historic values. Kirkus Review (starred review) For all its postmodern flourishes, Goon Squad is as traditional as a Dickens novel... Her aim is not so much to explode traditional storytelling as to explore how it responds to the pressures and opportunities of the digital age. Egan herself does not appear to be on Facebook, but A Visit From the Goon Squad will likely make her many new friends. Newsweek A stunningly resourceful writer Guardian Egan's a daunting stylist, and she's in blistering form for these interlocking narratives about the milieu surrounding an aging and waning music producer. Essentially, it's a story about getting mugged by the passage of time, and along the way she interrogates how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate. You also might know this as the novel that has a chapter written in PowerPoint. Egan: unpredictable and, here, brilliant. Publisher's Weekly Books of the Year. Thriftily evokes many disparate American lives in less than 300 pages, vividly showing how the virtues of the realist tradition - historical depth and strong point of view - can be combined with a modernist aesthetic of fragmentation and dissolution. -- Pankaj Mishra Guardian