A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad

eBook - 2010
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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.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307593627
0307593622
Characteristics: 1 online resource (273 p.) : ill.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Egan’s novel jumps time and location in an inventive mix or interconnected stories and characters all linked to Bennie Salazaar. Revolving around the music business, Egan’s storytelling is clever, dark and unconventional.


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EljayJohnson
Jul 21, 2019

Well. So. Anyway. When I picked up this Pulitzer Prize-winning, highly acclaimed, lots-o-buzz novel by an author of a book I'd liked very much (The Keep), the last thing I thought would happen would be that I'd find it derivative, especially since there are so many comments about how different it is. But two chapters in, it was like I was transported back to the early 80s, Jay McInerny, Bret Easton Ellis, Bright Lights Big City time. And that wasn't a good thing. A second person narrative might have been WOW in 1983; it was more "Really? This again?" in 2011. However, this novel (really a series of interconnected short stories) did improve for me; some of the middle stories like Lou on the safari, the actress and the general, and Bennie and his wife in the suburbs were excellent. The end was just awful; I was embarrassed for Egan over how ludicrous and cringingly plain stupid her vision of the future in the final chapter was. The famed PowerPoint chapter was -- cute, I guess. While Egan is certainly talented, her writing in this book was so showy, look-at-me and her message (people age, time goes by, some change, some don't) so mundane that I was often annoyed and/or snorting in derision. Moments of brilliance could not possibly balance out all of the faults. Too bad. I really wanted to like it.

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krobody
Feb 07, 2019

After reading three or four chapters of this book I was completely lost. I put the book down and didn't return to it for a couple of days. I tried to pickup where I'd left off but it became obvious that that was to be a losing cause. Although I very rarely do this, I started the book over. I could hardly put it down. When I reached the end I sat stunned by what I'd experienced.
This is a book I'm not soon to forget.

It’s rare for me to read a book and not want to gobble it up, find out what happens and MOVE ON to the next book. I am plot driven. This book has changed me. A disparate group of people reside in a sometimes historical and sometimes futuristic pop culture. Each character passes through different decades until they reach the information-driven and publicly documented 21st century. Through unrelenting portraits and intertwined plots, the book flows and interweaves pieces into a fascinating whole. People fascinated by the human condition, but not necessarily wanting answers about it, will enjoy this book. My favourite chapter is a preteen girls’ Powerpoint presentation on her family. Be warned: this book has a few pretty grim sketches of relationships and some graphic scenes – but these are few vignettes among many. A particularly fascinating read for anyone who’s lived through the 1980’s and 1990’s. (submitted by JW)

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beetlebaily
May 31, 2018

fascinating book. quite complex. one almost needs a score card of the characters. excellent writing. liked her Manhattan Beach more.

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elizali
Feb 07, 2018

I rather liked the ensemble cast setup in this novel. An apt look at post-9/11 culture and how 21st century technology is affecting language, music, business, and culture. Egan is a satirist of the first degree.

SCL_Justin Jul 28, 2017

My friend who teaches grade 12 English recommended I read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. It’s a novel centred around music, but centred is a bad word. It’s much more scattered than that, bouncing itself about in time telling stories of people tangentially connected to each other.

Each of the sections could stand alone as a short story (and I gather that at least some of them were published that way) and that’s part of why my friend is teaching it. He could give each person in class responsibility for becoming an expert in one chunk and then Voltron everything together with presentations in class.

Most of what I liked about the book was the shifting form of it. A different friend of mine has no patience for this kind of thing. She just wants a story that keeps her interested and makes her feel something. This book doesn’t do that per se. But there’s a chapter that’s done as a slideshow, which is the kind of trick I really enjoy, even if it is a little gimmicky.

FindingJane May 01, 2017

The goon squad of the title is time itself. Time is unkind to human beings, causing them to lose their bloom, beauty, freshness, vivacity, slimness and hair. But it can provide certain benefits too, calming sullenness or causing us to cast off unproductive or embarrassing behavior (and hairstyles).

The various characters in this novel interact in surprising and unknown ways as the narrative loops backwards and forwards in time. Rebellious teenagers gallivant through the world in ways that make other people envious. A record producer has high times—until his clients dwindle away. A woman on top of the social world throws a lavish party that goes spectacularly awry and she sees this as the sharp demarcation between her glory years and her current failed life.

It’s a phantasmagorical whirl of lives coming together and drifting apart as eras fade and new generations are born. Even as people turn to each other in a shared instance of bliss, demanding that they remain this way always, you know that the intensity of the moment will fade like an old photograph.

The novel’s poignancy lies in the recognition that people will make futile efforts to imprison the fleeting moments, even as time shoves them forward with hard shoves between the shoulderblades. It’s a book of contrasts, squalor and splendor, fame and notoriety, joy and anger. People wallow, flounder, try and fail, each in their own individual methods and this novel manages to keep the reader absolutely riveted every step of the way.

athompson10 Feb 15, 2017

A series of vignettes from people whose lives intersect over the years, and somehow it all hangs together as a narrative about music, adulthood and the choices we make. There's an overall sadness and melancholy to the book, although some of the characters' stories are funny and some quite dark and bleak.

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spiderfelt_0
Jan 29, 2017

The loosely connected stories left me unsatisfied and wondering why they ended where they did. I agree with the reviewed who suggested Egan wrote this book to impress. It seemed like a vast experiment without any real justification for the jumps.

AustinPL_Virtual Sep 14, 2016

When I finish a book, I rarely flip right to the beginning for a re-read no matter how much I love it. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is a notable exception. It’s a collection of stories with overlapping characters and timelines that fit together intricately. You’ll get a few chapters in before realizing, “Oh! Here’s the person who…” Thus, the need to flip to the beginning or elsewhere, to find that thread in another character’s story.

With its jigsaw structure and dark tone, Goon Squad is a poignant pleasure. The characters search for meaning or maturity or love, and you feel a twinge of guilt and sadness when their efforts fall short. The episodic chapters engender a variety of settings, including punk San Francisco, a posh New York suburb and an African safari. It’s a wild and disconcerting ride, but it’s definitely worth taking.

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awayfromkeyboard
Dec 04, 2018

"The pause makes you think the song will end. And then the song isn't really over, so you're relieved. But then the song does actually end, because every song ends, obviously, and THAT. TIME. THE. END. IS. FOR. REAL."

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awayfromkeyboard
Dec 04, 2018

"...when she was like anyone, with a life that worried and electrified and overwhelmed her..."

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awayfromkeyboard
Dec 04, 2018

We're there, the three of us, like before. We're back to the beginning...We never did get to Africa, or anywhere. We barely left this house.

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awayfromkeyboard
Dec 04, 2018

So this is it-what cost me all that time...In 1979, that could be the beginning of an exciting story, a story where anything might happen. Not it's a punch line. "It was all for no reason," I say. "That's never true," Rhea says. "You just haven't found the reason yet."..."I got lost," I say.

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awayfromkeyboard
Dec 04, 2018

"It will prompt some of them, years from now, to search for each other on Google and Facebook, unable to resist the wish fulfillment fantasy these portals offer: What ever happened to . . . ?...mostly, the reunions will lead to a mutual discovery that having been on safari thirty-five years before doesn't qualify as having much in common, and they'll part ways wondering what, exactly they'd hoped for."

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