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A Visit from the Goon Squad
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A Visit from the Goon Squad

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  109,905 ratings  ·  12,997 reviews
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, ov ...more
Paperback, 351 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Constable & Robinson (first published June 8th 2010)
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Cameron Stuart Expanding from Ryan's idea of Ted as a Eurydice looking to be saved, I also see a considerable amount of Orpheus in Ted. His true passion is art, a…moreExpanding from Ryan's idea of Ted as a Eurydice looking to be saved, I also see a considerable amount of Orpheus in Ted. His true passion is art, a Eurydice that he has given up to family, work and the "goon" of time itself. His visit to Italy presents an alternative to Orpheus wallowing in self pity, spurning passion for the rest of his mortal days and eventually being torn to shreds, quite literally, by his refusal to come to terms with the loss of his great passion. I certainly believe the Orpheus and Eurydice significance can be read a multitude of ways. An idea I also considered was Ted viewing Sasha as a pre-matrimony Orpheus, still passionate about the world and chasing dreams, rather than the wallowing state he now finds his life to be submerged in. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Um, this is just BAAAAAAD. Bold-face, capital-letters BAD. Absolutely awful!
What.....were.....they.....thinking????? Oh, I forgot, they weren't!
When did the Pulitzer become the Puke-litzer? I'll never again trust that prize designation except with books from a long time ago.

Don't be fooled by the first chapter, which is not too bad. Sort of an interesting start, about a kleptomaniac aging punk rock chick. After that, FORGET IT! Dumpster filler.

A lot of people make a big mention of the PowerPo
Patrick Brown
Aug 23, 2010 Patrick Brown rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Patrick by: Edan Lepucki, everyone on the internet,
Spoiler alert: You will get old. You will die. Things will never be like they are right now. And yet, how things are right now will determine how they are in the future. This is so.

The "goon" in the title of this book is time. It opens with a quote from Proust, the poet laureate of memory, about how we cannot recapture the people we were in past the places where we were those people, but rather that those people exist within us, always. And that, it seems to me, is more or less the book, in a nu
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 17, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Pulitzer 2010
Shelves: pulitzer
I attended a novel-writing workshop last week and one of the things that I took home with me was: write to express and not to impress. I have a feeling, and I could be wrong on this since I am just a paying reader, that Jennifer Egan wrote this novel A Visit from the Good Squad mainly to impress. Well, it won the nod of the Pulitzer jurors so the trick worked!

Each of the 13 chapters is told in different points of view mostly by people who the two main protagonists, Bennie, the gold-eating reco
hell's bells. believe this hype.

this book is the saddest, truest, wisest book i have ever read in a single day. which is not to belittle it - my tear-assing through it is because i did not want to stop reading it and resented any interruption that tried to get in my way. i am someone who plans things. i have timetables in my head - i have to, in order to get everything done. nothing important, just "at 8:00 i will untangle my necklaces while i watch my netflix. at 10:00, i will fold my laundry a
This is the best book ever that has a whole chapter done in power point.

I hate power point. I think it was invented by the devil and given to humanity to make us even dumber than we are now. I think teachers who use power point should be hog-tied by their intestines and then sodomized by Mary Lou Retton (and probably people in the corporate world too, but I don't know about that first hand, but I'm sure they deserve even worse). I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate power poi
I was going to post a really cool review of this, post-dated from the year 202X, but I couldn't get Goodreads to display my PowerPoint presentation correctly*.

*This is a lie. I did not write a PowerPoint book review because I:
am lazy/am not that clever/don't have PowerPoint. Or is it all three*?

*It is all three.

I loved this book, which is funny because it's basically short stories, and I usually don't have the patience for short stories. But these did me the favor of interlocking nicely in a way
The National Book Critics Circle Award. A Penn/Faulkner Award Finalist. The freaking Pulitzer. It has to be good, right? I thought so, to the point that it was the only book that i brought with me on the plane this weekend, but I was really disappointed.

This book, a collection of quasi-connected short stories, covers a span of time between the 1970s and 2020s and follows a variety of people, most notably a former punk rocker turned music executive and a young troubled kleptomaniac turned an adu

Time is a strange old fella, isn't it? It creeps up on you and changes you bit by bit until you the new you and the old you are barely more than strangers to one another.

You can see time as a continuum, a line stretching from the past into the future, a long straight road to travel along with occasional proverbial 'road not taken' splitting off to the side - where barely perceptible changes accumulate one by one.

Or else you can look at it as a series of snapshots, a deck of cards randomly and c
Originally posted here.

There are two paragraphs in Jennifer Egan’s new book, A Visit from the Goon Squad , that heavily hint on its fundamental theme but were not at all written by the author. One is the book’s epigraph, taken from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time: “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 disappointmen
Reading this book is like going into the future and eavesdropping on a conversation between two old friends who haven’t seen each other in years:

“Remember Bennie Salazar?”

“Sure. He was that record producer who used to put the gold flakes in his coffee. Didn’t he used to be in a band?”

“Yeah, he was a wannabe punk rocker in the ‘80s. He was friends with Scotty back then.”

“Was Scotty normal then? Because I heard he’s completely shithouse-rat-crazy these days.”

“Oh, he’s totally insane. Hey, what was
A must-read for "creative writing" types interested in POV/style variation. Otherwise, for the second consecutive year, the Pulitzer committee awards nearly empty formalism (see "Tinkers"). Both "Tinkers" and this one are formally "unconventional" and concerned with time, yet otherwise seem to have very little to say, as they used to say.

I liked the PR/General chapter. I liked a description of old tattoos on saggy flesh. I liked the big fish caught in the East River. I really liked the sudden ju
Krok Zero
Probably not Egan's fault that I didn't love this one -- I'm starting to think it's impossible for me to get behind any novel with this kind of pointillist structure. Maybe I'm more aesthetically conservative than I thought I was, because this year I've read two ecstatically praised novels that use this piecemeal approach (the other being David Mitchell's Ghostwritten) and found it difficult to give a fuck about either of 'em. The idea, I guess, is that the individual fragments add up to a great ...more
The older I get the harder it is for any book to get on my special-place-in-my-heart shelf. The last time I found myself raving about a book as if it was the Second Coming of Christ was when I read Evening is the Whole Day in December 2009. Either I have been reading lots of so-so books lately or I have become jaded.

Luckily, here comes this book to prove to me I am not as indifferent as I would like to believe myself to be.

Another thing this book proves is that you can have a best selling colle
Normally I don't start reviewing books before I've finished them, but saying how much I hate this book at the halfway point is cathartic.

I hate this book. I HATE IT SO MUCH.

Is it well-written? Probably. Complex characters? Yeah, I'll give them that.

That being said, even reading one chapter of this leaves me so freaking depressed that I want to put it in the sink and light it on fire. Also, the characters may be complex, but I don't care what happens to any of them. I really don't. There's this
Ian Pagan-Szary
One At a Time

The thirteen chapters of "A Visit from the Goon Squad" are like lily pads on a pond.

They encapsulate the lives of a group of people, a community, a human ecosystem, over a period of 50 years (only it doesn’t seem like that long).

We start on the pad nearest to us (which is not necessarily the present or the most recent story), then we look around and jump onto the other pads, one at a time, each choice made for us by Jennifer Egan, but not necessarily dictated by any apparent partic
This book felt so transparent to me. I could feel her writing and thinking and smirking and patting herself on the back. Normally, I have no problem with that. I love arrogant people when the arrogance is earned. But these stories didn’t ring true for me. They felt staged and cute and show-offy. “Oh, look what I can do. I can write a chapter in the second person for no reason and another one in PowerPoint and another one in cyber-gibberish. And I can connect a bunch of simplistic but oh-so-quirk ...more
While I enjoy writing from time to time, I'm not an author. I wasn't an English major. I've never taken a creative writing course, nor read any books on how to write. Perhaps that's why I often struggle when I give a poor rating to a book that has received high critical acclaim. I mean, what do I know?

However, I rate books not so much on their literary merit, but on how much I enjoyed the book as a reader. I rate according to how engaged I was; how much I enjoyed the story, the characters, the t
Time is a goon? Not necessarily, I think.

( First of all, I think I may be too un-American to really get this book. The dreams, hopes, expectations, definition of a happy and content life for most Indians are entirely different from all of Egan's characters. These stories won't fit in an Indian context. This may be a reason why this book didn't speak to me the same way as it did to many other readers. )

I can't help feeling that at least some of Egan's characters were responsible for wrecking thei
Stephen M
I don't think I've ever been this torn on a book. I mean three stars? four? five? I give away so many five stars anyway.... Ah, goodreads star-rating system, you can never fully capture my experience with a book.
So, what did I think of this book? Absolutely beautiful at times. Was it consistent? No. Was it sad? Yes. Was it rewarding? Yes. Did the post-modern gimmick work in this book? I'm not sure.

And that is where most of my grippes come with this one. Because I couldn't help but feel that Egan
Nandakishore Varma
Time, you old Gypsy Man,
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?

- Ralph Hodgson

“Time’s a goon, right?”

- Bosco, a character from
A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is a unique book which defies analysis, probably because it breaks all conventions of storytelling. In fact, it does not tell a story at all. It tells many stories, not by traditional narration but by cameo glimpses into the intertwined life of a handful of characters connected with
What a bunch of crap.

A thing I find unbearable is the forced pathos of one-dimensional characters.

Take Benny, for instance. Benny can't get an erection. So he puts gold flakes in his coffee and stares at his assistant's tits with various degrees of discretion. We get it. Why then are we led through the ritual over and over? Benny starts his day with a coffee, stares at assistant's tits, self-scans and finds no erection. Later, in the car with the assistant, he stares at her tits. No reaction. Bu
I wish the hype surrounding Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad never reached me.

A Visit From The Goon Squad functions like an invisible literary daisy chain (the flower kind, not the sex kind, perv) through which characters connect in subtle ways that are most likely imperceptible from the players’ vantages. The reader views the interactions from above and traces the relationships like they were troops moving on a map. Egan transcends gimmickry and uses the device to rewind and fast-fo
Sorry Greggers, I have to read this now. It sounds like it would even be better than getting to meet Mary Lou Retton.

I love to people-watch. Even as a little girl, I remember seeing people in stores, walking down the street, or even in passing cars and be fascinated with the thought that they had actual lives they were living, just like me. I would imagine what kind of house they lived in, how they got a

You know what. I don’t really have much to say about this. Except the whole hype thing and that for the first time EVER I was reading this at the same time like 4 of my friends were reading it and hell, I’ve been in book clubs where that doesn’t happen. Score another one for hype.

This book made me sad. Not because I was really invested in the characters, no... it was a purely self-centered sadness. I’m not alone in thinking that we (born 1960-1975) are a disillusioned generation right? That we
This will be the only review on goodreads that doesn't mention the book's powerpoint chapter. Aw man, I already blew it. Well, I didn't like the powerpoint part and I didn't care much for the book either. I seem to have that kind of reaction when a book is super hyped though. I may have liked it a fraction more if I had discovered it on my own and it hadn't been raved about.

I just didn't give a shit about anyone. I started reading and thought, okay this is excellent. I loved the first chapter,
Six degrees of separation winning the Pulitzer, with twisted characters in various states of senescence, forlorn, gloom, and devastation all at the same time, spanning several decades as time frame. That, in a nutshell, is my assessment of "A Visit From The Goon Squad".

This is no cerebral review of the novel; I do not want to over-analyze any underlying messages or meanings beneath each and every chapter which featured a different character. Instead, these are simple observations.

The shifting
There are so many reasons I could have hated this book. First, as many other reviewers have pointed out, it could easily have been titled White People Problems: The Book. This book is about white people who listen to painfully hip music, have relationship drama, and generally complain about how they're getting old and it totally sucks. I didn't like a single character, now that I think about it - not that they weren't interesting, but they were all utterly unsympathetic and as a result I cared v ...more
As you go along, this novel doesn't draw you in (though I did find it fun, esp since many of its musical references are of bands I first listened to in my 20s), but instead creates a distance -- whether intentionally or unintentionally -- which may, or may not, have to do with its likely prescient theme of where the world is headed.

I enjoyed the wry satire, the non-chronological structure (very well-done) and seeing where the characters overlapped, though some of that didn't seem organic and mor
Se ci sono i bambini, allora c'è futuro, no?

“Usciremo dal nostro corpo e ci ritroveremo gli uni con gli altri in forma di spiriti. Ci incontreremo in questo luogo nuovo, tutti quanti, e all'inizio ci sembrerà strano, ma presto a sembrare strano sarà che prima si potesse perdere qualcuno, o se stessi”.

Intimidazione, spionaggio, assalto. Queste sono le armi che una “goon squad”, un gruppo di mercenari e criminali nell'America premoderna, usava per avere ragione di coloro che non cooperavano. E al
Jeffrey Keeten
I have never read Jennifer Egan before. I had no expectations for this book except that it carried the caveat of Pulitzer Prize Winner. The book as it turns out is really a series of interlocking stories. A minor character in one chapter may be the main character in the next chapter. I thought Egan locked these stories together seamlessly making for an enjoyable quick read.

I found myself reflecting on my own life, the trials and tribulations of these characters certainly struck a nerve with me
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Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and St John's College, Cambridge.

She is the author of three novels, The Invisible Circus, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the bestselling The Keep, and a short story collection, Emerald City. She has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and
More about Jennifer Egan...
The Keep Look at Me The Invisible Circus Emerald City Black Box

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“I don’t want to fade away, I want to flame away - I want my death to be an attraction, a spectacle, a mystery. A work of art.” 1519 likes
“I'm always happy," Sasha said. "Sometimes I just forget.” 1090 likes
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