Kinga's Reviews > A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
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Sep 07, 13

bookshelves: special-place-in-my-heart
Read from June 28 to July 01, 2011

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 collection of short stories, as long as you pretend they are a novel. Short stories seem to be perfectly suited to our current busy lifestyles and short attention spans. It's baffling they are pushed off the literary mainstream, and judging by this book's success, it seems to be some unexplainable prejudice. After all, this book is just a collection of loosely connected episodes that could (and have been) easily published as stand alone stories.

The appeal of "A Visit from the Goon Squad" lies in its treatment of passing time and growing old, of how people go from being the protagonists to barely mentioned secondary characters. These are all things we know about but we don't like to think about. The delicate way in which Egan presents the inevitability of all of them makes it a very sad, melancholic, and bitter-sweet read. This book is also about rock'n'roll because music is one of those things that were always better when we were young.

No matter how accomplished and powerful the character, he or she will eventually get pushed aside and left to reminisce. This is the most powerful and important message that this book delivers. However, it doesn't leave you completely hopeless. It uses a beautiful metaphor of pauses in rock'n'roll songs. Just when you think it's all over, the song comes back on after a couple seconds for its one last hurrah.

I have read a few negative reviews (most notably Sarah Aswell's one) and while I see where they are coming from, I must say this book did it for me. It was so true that all I could do was sigh for two reasons. One, because we're all gonna die, two, because there is no way I could ever write anything this powerful.

Time is a goon and life is a bitch, eh?
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Reading Progress

06/29/2011 page 86
31.0% "I think I am going to have to jump on the bandwagon with this one. So far it's quite amazing."

Comments (showing 1-44 of 44) (44 new)

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Lazarus P Badpenny Esq you've made up my mind. I've been hovering over this like a hungry hawk for the last two weeks.


message 2: by Alan (new)

Alan got this one on my list.
Short stories seem to be perfectly suited to our current busy lifestyles and short attention spans.
so why does no fucker buy them?


Kinga People buy them as long as you pretend they are NOT short stories (people are prejudiced)


message 4: by Alan (new)

Alan yes I'm going to start an anti-short story prejudice campaign. ASSP for short.


Kinga check my Caine Prize short story reviews on my blog! :)


message 6: by John (new)

John "This book is also about rock'n'roll because music is one of those things that were always better when we were young."

No, it's about rock and roll because that's the only "culture" most Americans today have in their arsenal. What else could they write about? Ballet? Jazz? Classical music? Painting? Sculpture? Architecture? History? Americans know nothing about these things.


Kinga Yeah, I know. And when you go to Paris you can talk about philosophy and classical music with your hairdresser.


message 8: by John (new)

John Substitute Amsterdam and cab driver and Berlin and waiters at a lot of hotel restaurants and you're entirely correct.

In Paris a waiter and I talked about Walnut Creek CA, where he wants to visit because of all the good restaurants. I live very close to there, never realized it was such a culinary mecca for the French!


Kinga Such great countries they have to be where very sophisticated, intelligent and educated people can only find work as waiters or cab drivers.

Wow. You had an intelligent conversation with a waiter in Paris... like, so cool, was he wearing a beret? If only all Americans could be as sophisticated as cab drivers in Amsterdam or waiters in Paris!


message 10: by John (new)

John Waiters in Europe are paid living wages and don't get by on tips, which are optional and usually only given for extraordinary services rendered and amount to a mere rounding up of the bill to the next euro. Waiting tables is a profession, just like shopkeeper, carpenter, auto mechanic, etc.


Kinga Yeah, totally. It's a wonder I ever quit! I was having it so good.

Thank God most people didn't know about your no tip rule!


message 12: by John (new)

John Err, they do. Have you ever traveled to Europe??


Kinga Dude. I have lived all my life in Europe. I am FROM Europe.


message 14: by John (new)

John Well, then you know they don't tip more than to round up, at least on the Continent. (Never been to the UK.) This is well-known, don't pretend it isn't. Just google it.


Kinga I have worked as a waitress in a couple of European countries and we almost always got tips of around 10%. (So you do almost always get tips and not hardly ever as you said).

But thanks, I will google that.

Also, I believe your point was that waiters in Europe are in it for the love of it because it's their PROFESSION and that's why they can discuss Sartre, unlike American waiters who are dumb and need the tips.

Which is the sort of idiotic cliche that only an American could come up with.


Eh?Eh! Hah. Dear John, why are you going around reviews of this particular book, at least 2 of them, and nitpicking? Are you bored? Do you realize there are actual people who wrote these and have personalities and history that you don't know? That you may come across sounding a bit officious? Relax! We all love reading!


Kinga And for the record - I'm not from UK.

It's just that we Europeans are so mobile!

When we are not discussing classical music and ballet, we travel and broaden our horizons. That's what we do. In berets.

Don't you wish you could be like us and not like those dumb Americans who know nothing of "Ballet, Jazz (except for having invented it), Classical music, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, History."


Eh?Eh! Hahah, I wish I could be like them Yoorowpeeans! I'm too busy picking my nose and scratching my buttcrack!


message 19: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j i went to europe once, LET ME SHOW YOU


Eh?Eh! Denied! You're American! You're offering an interminable slideshow where every background landmark is obscured by your American mass. Because Americans can't do photography, either! We gots no culchur!


message 21: by j (last edited Jan 31, 2013 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

j it's true! the average french hobo is more erudite than the most rarified american CEO!


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice review, Kinga!

@ John: I am pretty sure other countries like rock 'n roll too. I seem to remember one or two bands from Europe who are kind of popular.


Eh?Eh! Pfft, as if you'd even know what the average French hobo is like. Have you ever traveled to Europe? Or just googled it? Americans, always believing everything they see on the internet.


Kinga Can we get some Europeans on this review ASAP?

All these rock'n'roll loving no culture Americans are making me brain-dead


message 25: by Eh?Eh! (last edited Jan 31, 2013 01:04PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Eh?Eh! *drool* *poop*


message 26: by Kemper (last edited Jan 31, 2013 01:14PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kemper We're so ignorant about classical music and theater in my American hometown that we built a brand new $400 million performing arts center. Bunch a goddamn savages here....


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Kinga wrote: "Can we get some Europeans on this review ASAP?

All these rock'n'roll loving no culture Americans are making me brain-dead"


I knew I should have chosen differently when I was given the choice about where I was born. Typical boneheaded American mistake. Then I could live in a Godard or Jarmusch film like John does.


karen subtle sarcasm is a lost art. thank you for reviving it, dear european


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

karen wrote: "subtle sarcasm is a lost art. thank you for reviving it, dear european"

Wait, that's not directed at me, right? I was kidding too!


karen nooo, i meant most of kinga's earlier comments!


Kinga i'm pretty sure it wasn't :)


message 32: by Bibliomantic (new) - added it

Bibliomantic Americans know nothing about these things.

John may have been autobiographical, however vaguely and subtly, in the above.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

John's just mad since he discovered the wait staff at the student union are spitting in his food.


message 34: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez I'm commenting solely for the notifications. Because this shit is epic.


Kinga I'm afraid John is gone :(

You always do that, you people! I never get any haters on my reviews and when I do get one, you all just go and scare him away!


Kinga And now we will never know what it is like in Europe!


message 37: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez By "you people" I assume you mean Americans? One of which you are not? Christ, Kinga, winning this argument would be so much easier if you weren't Polish or whatever schamncy shit you lay claim to, what with your rude, untipped waiters and fancy philosophical bathroom attendants. Go learn a 7th language, aaaasshole!


Kinga :D


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Someone needs to capture John's comments before he deletes them in a fit of pique. Always be quoting!


Eh?Eh! message 6: by John
17 hours, 41 min ago

John "This book is also about rock'n'roll because music is one of those things that were always better when we were young."

No, it's about rock and roll because that's the only "culture" most Americans today have in their arsenal. What else could they write about? Ballet? Jazz? Classical music? Painting? Sculpture? Architecture? History? Americans know nothing about these things.

reply | flag *



message 7: by Kinga - rated it 5 stars
14 hours, 46 min ago

Kinga Yeah, I know. And when you go to Paris you can talk about philosophy and classical music with your hairdresser.

reply | flag *



message 8: by John
6 hours, 7 min ago

John Substitute Amsterdam and cab driver and Berlin and waiters at a lot of hotel restaurants and you're entirely correct.

In Paris a waiter and I talked about Walnut Creek CA, where he wants to visit because of all the good restaurants. I live very close to there, never realized it was such a culinary mecca for the French!

reply | flag *



message 9: by Kinga - rated it 5 stars
6 hours, 0 min ago

Kinga Such great countries they have to be where very sophisticated, intelligent and educated people can only find work as waiters or cab drivers.

Wow. You had an intelligent conversation with a waiter in Paris... like, so cool, was he wearing a beret? If only all Americans could be as sophisticated as cab drivers in Amsterdam or waiters in Paris!

reply | flag *



message 10: by John
5 hours, 46 min ago

John Waiters in Europe are paid living wages and don't get by on tips, which are optional and usually only given for extraordinary services rendered and amount to a mere rounding up of the bill to the next euro. Waiting tables is a profession, just like shopkeeper, carpenter, auto mechanic, etc.

reply | flag *



message 11: by Kinga - rated it 5 stars
5 hours, 39 min ago

Kinga Yeah, totally. It's a wonder I ever quit! I was having it so good.

Thank God most people didn't know about your no tip rule!

reply | flag *



message 12: by John
5 hours, 33 min ago

John Err, they do. Have you ever traveled to Europe??

reply | flag *



message 13: by Kinga - rated it 5 stars
5 hours, 32 min ago

Kinga Dude. I have lived all my life in Europe. I am FROM Europe.

reply | flag *



message 14: by John
4 hours, 53 min ago

John Well, then you know they don't tip more than to round up, at least on the Continent. (Never been to the UK.) This is well-known, don't pretend it isn't. Just google it.


Eh?Eh! For teh children!


message 42: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez I love you, Eh. So deal with it!


Kinga HA HA HA. Ok, children. I am off now to read the History of Antiquity in a language that has at least twenty declension patterns. And you go back to your reality TV or whatever it is you Americans do.

Disperse!


message 44: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Yeah, get outta muh yard! I'm warnin' you kids, I have guns! Lotsa guns!


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