Jess's Reviews > A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
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May 28, 11

bookshelves: fiction, read-in-2011, pulitzer-prize, 1001-books
Read from May 21 to 23, 2011

Awesome. And I don't mean that in the male teenage skateboarding sense - I mean it in the old-fashioned literal sense.

Most summaries of Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad tend to point toward aging punk rock record producer Bennie Salazar and his assistant Sasha as the central characters of this novel of intimately connected short stories. However doing so relegates the other characters to mere bit-parts, but the power of this novel is that there are no bit parts - everyone has a story, everyone is connected, everyone's lives are affected by each other. Yes, Bennie and Sasha are probably the two key players, but what about Lou, or Scotty, or Stephanie, or Dolly, or Jocelyn, or Lulu, or ... you get my point. Their stories are so strong, their personalities so vivid and memorable that it is impossible to limit the focus on Bennie and Sasha.

The use of interconnected short stories never feels like a cheap gimmick (not even the powerpoint chapter, which is strangely moving all on its own) but rather an essential exploration about how use of language changes through generations, how time changes us and our relationships. Egan achieves such breadth and depth of character, story and theme within the constraints across the shorter form. All of the voices here are so unique, even those which are ripping on obvious sources. It is the array of styles and narrative voices, and how intricately they are all linked together, that makes A Visit From the Goon Squad so novel yet easily recognizable within the heavily networked, limited attention span of our contemporary culture.

I'm still left a tad speechless by just how much I enjoyed A Visit From the Goon Squad and I'm hoping future re-reads will offer a bit more insight. For now though, I'm more than content with the "wow, this is awesome!" reaction the book provoked in me, something that has been largely lacking in my reading so far this year.
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05/21/2011 page 92
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