Judy's Reviews > A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
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Aug 03, 11

bookshelves: female-author, pulitzer-winner, audiobooks, my-2011-books
Recommended to Judy by: Goodreads
Recommended for: anyone who doesn't require plot
Read from July 09 to 31, 2011, read count: 1

I really enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book, the reader was quite excellent. I loved the life and personality she brought to the prose. The prose itself is smart and evocative, edgy but compassionate. I could easily picture the characters and situations. Benny Salazar was an interesting character who moved through many pieces of this disjointed tale through the lives and times of quite a few people, ending up around the year 2020. Many of the characters were somehow involved in the music industry, many were involved with drugs, most or all were self-destructive to some extent or were closely affiliated with self-destructive people (which is also self-destructive). It's not the kind of story you could say has an exact plot or beginning and ending. It's more a conglomeration of people living overlapping lives with varying degree of success, with Life and Time as the goons, getting in the way bigtime. Music and technology also played their influential roles. In many reviews I read, people were put out by the lack of exact plot, by the plethora of characters. But life is exactly like that, isn't it? Too little plot, too many characters, and life and time beat us up. Great story!
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Quotes Judy Liked

Jennifer Egan
“Yet each disappointment Ted felt in his wife, each incremental deflation, was accompanied by a seizure of guilt; many years ago, he had taken the passion he felt for Susan and folded it in half, so he no longer had a drowning, helpless feeling when he glimpsed her beside him in bed: her ropy arms and soft, generous ass. Then he’d folded it in half again, so when he felt desire for Susan, it no longer brought with it an edgy terror of never being satisfied. Then in half again, so that feeling desire entailed no immediate need to act. Then in half again, so he hardly felt it. His desire was so small in the end that Ted could slip it inside his desk or a pocket and forget about it, and this gave him a feeling of safety and accomplishment, of having dismantled a perilous apparatus that might have crushed them both. Susan was baffled at first, then distraught; she’d hit him twice across the face; she’d run from the house in a thunderstorm and slept at a motel; she’d wrestled Ted to the bedroom floor in a pair of black crotchless underpants. But eventually a sort of amnesia had overtaken Susan; her rebellion and hurt had melted away, deliquesced into a sweet, eternal sunniness that was terrible in the way that life would be terrible, Ted supposed, without death to give it gravitas and shape. He’d presumed at first that her relentless cheer was mocking, another phase in her rebellion, until it came to him that Susan had forgotten how things were between them before Ted began to fold up his desire; she’d forgotten and was happy — had never not been happy — and while all of this bolstered his awe at the gymnastic adaptability of the human mind, it also made him feel that his wife had been brainwashed. By him.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Like all failed experiments, that one taught me something I didn’t expect: one key ingredient of so-called experience is the delusional faith that it is unique and special, that those included in it are privileged and those excluded from it are missing out.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“We stand there, quiet. My questions all seem wrong: How did you get so old? Was it all at once, in a day, or did you peter out bit by bit? When did you stop having parties? Did everyone else get old too, or was it just you? Are other people still here, hiding in the palm trees or holding their breath underwater? When did you last swim your laps? Do your bones hurt? Did you know this was coming and hide that you knew, or did it ambush you from behind?”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Rebecca was an academic star. Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she'd invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words--"friend" and "real" and "story" and "change"--words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks. Some, like "identity" and "search" and "cloud," had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had "American" become an ironic term? How had "democracy" come to be used in an arch, mocking way?”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“I'm always happy," Sasha said. "Sometimes I just forget.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Structural dissatisfaction: Returning to circumstances that once pleased you, after having experienced a more thrilling or opulent way of life, and finding that you can no longer tolerate them.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“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.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Kissing Mother Superior, incompetent, hairball, poppy seeds, on the can.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“A bit of theory as we settle down for lunch: the waiter's treatment of Kitty is actually a kind of sandwich, with the bottom bread being the bored and slightly effete way he normally acts with customers, the middle being the crazed and abnormal way he feels around this famous nineteen-year-old girl, and the top bread being his attempt to contain and conceal this alien middle layer with some mode of behavior that at least approximates the bottom layer of boredom and effeteness that is his norm.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“The answers were maddeningly absent—it was like trying to remember a song that you knew made you feel a certain way, without a title, artist, or even a few bars to bring it back.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Kathy was a Republican, one of those people who used the unforgivable phrase "meant to be"--usually when describing her own good fortune or the disasters that had befallen other people.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Sometimes I imagine myself looking back on right now and I think like where will I be standing when I look back Will right now look like the beginning of a great life or... or what”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“I go away for a few years and the whole fucking world is upside down Jules said angrily. Buildings are missing. You get strip-searched every time you go to someone's office. Everybody sounds stoned because they're emailing people the whole time they're talking to you. Tom and Nicole are with different people...And now my rock-and-roll sister and her husband are hanging around with Republicans. What the fuck - Jules Jones”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“The problem was precision, perfection; the problem was digitization, which sucked the life out of everything that got smeared through its microscopic mesh.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“What I Suddenly Understand
My job is to make people uncomfortable. + I will do it all my life. ---> My mother, Sasha Blake, is my first victim.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan
“Oh we'll know each other forever, Bix says. The days of losing touch are almost gone.”
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad


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