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

(Goon Squad #1)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  198,461 ratings  ·  19,709 reviews
Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle 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 intersec ...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published June 8th 2010 by Knopf
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Nadja Hertel Goon Squad is a fast read, and despite the non-linear timeline I didn't find it hard to follow the characters because each story is written in a way t…moreGoon Squad is a fast read, and despite the non-linear timeline I didn't find it hard to follow the characters because each story is written in a way that it can stand on its own. It's soooo much better when you read it the second time though, you pick up all the clever details Egan hid that you wouldn't see the first time around. (less)
Ryan Greer I think it's a clever analogy. He does love Sasha, just not in the same way that Orpheus would have loved Eurydice. I think in some ways Creepy Uncle …moreI think it's a clever analogy. He does love Sasha, just not in the same way that Orpheus would have loved Eurydice. I think in some ways Creepy Uncle Ted was also looking to be saved, from his own life and struggles, which is a strong theme throughout the entire book. (I, too, was also a little worried during that plotline but was relieved to discover that his love for her was really a longing for the love that the younger version of himself had for the younger version of herself) Great writing! (less)

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Patrick Brown
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
K.D. Absolutely
May 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 re
Apr 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2013-reads

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
"Time is a goon," we're told, and the older I get (and I'm not even old), the more I realize that this is really true, as years fly faster and faster and things that once sounded like a long way off are suddenly in the rear view mirror (like: it is 2010; in one year, 9/11 will have been 10 years ago). I used to think 70 seemed old. With my parents newly retired and pushing the seven-decade mark, though, anyone who dies before 80 seems like they died young. I take heart in the fact that, barring ...more
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
Lisa of Troy
Aug 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Standin’ on your mama’s porch
You told me that it’s last forever
Oh, and when you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life

-Bryan Adams

Have you ever had a defining moment, one where you knew it was important, where you wanted it to last forever, wanted to keep it in your hand or your pocket but knew in that instant that it was floating away, through your fingertips?

It might be someone that you met in college, who you connected with so strongly emotionally, but
punk is not dead

Christmas Eve, 2011. The foreboding sheen of a room filled with excited anticipation and beautiful glimmering presents piled up under the Christmas tree. This traditional family habit blending festive elation with infantile sibling jealousy and rivalry ever fuels surreptitious reflections on the guileful art of giving. Every year, I ingenuously and silently wish for a book. (Oh frustration! Do you recognize this experience? Having to live with an avid or obsessive reader, people might think they
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Taking home the Pulitzer, it's clear to me what type of novels are favored: the novels deemed fresh and classic simultaneously. Like "Olive Kitteridge" or "The Interpreter of Maladies", this is a novel made up of short stories, all of them vivid anecdotes of people surrounding the music industry (as in musicians, roadies, fans, relatives... etc.) in precise clear-cut slivers of everyday life. Jennifer Egan's prose is exciting, her method of bleeding one story onto the next, of building up these, ...more
Nov 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 disappointment as in success. It is ...more
Joe Valdez
Aug 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This novel snaked through my filters--put in place to keep me from wasting time reading books I'll likely abandon and pin with one-star reviews I really don't like to give--due to the following:

1. Unanimously positive critical reviews
2. Promise of electrifying writing or storytelling (see #1)
3. Fantastic title
4. Author, whose work I've never read, endorsed a petition in May 2016 in protest of the current president along with 450 other authors

The positive vibe didn't last long.

A Visit From the G
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ww, novels
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
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dubliners for the Digital Age.

Whereas Joyce used naturalistic prose to depict a specific time and place, Dublin, Ireland in the early twentieth century, author Jennifer Egan uses the same style and perspective to describe life in the late twentieth century, early twenty first century. Also like Joyce, Egan has structured her work into a series of loosely connected short stories, though Egan’s novel, or collection of short work, is more narratively connected than the earlier work. Likewise, Egan’
Kevin Kelsey
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
" may be that a crowd at a particular moment in history creates the object to justify its gathering... ...or it may be that two generations of war and surveillance had left people craving the embodiment of their own unease in the form of a lone, unsteady man on a slide guitar."

I loved it. It wasn't a light read, even though it's fairly short. It had a unique format that works equally well as both a collection of short stories and a novel. It's a pretty gutsy narrative that requires some men
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
Paul Bryant
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I’ve been reading the reviews of this one. Five star raves and one star tongue lashings all over the place. Maybe someone has spiked my tea with serotonin reuptake inhibitors because whilst I couldn’t find it within my heart to hate it, nor yet could I summon up the energy to love it that much neither.
(So this is Mr Wishy Washy here, calling from England. How are you? I am so-so. In fact I am so so-so I have forgotten what it’s like to be not so so-so. )

But it’s okay. If this book was a Stones s
Jeffrey Keeten
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Krok Zero
Aug 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-2010
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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nandakishore Mridula
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
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Not quite sure how to rate this one, mixed feelings. It is an extraordinary work of interconnected stories going back and forth in time. About persons and how they evolve and develop over time. One story more appealing than the other, but an intriguing entirety at any rate. The ppt chapter, I thought… WTF, but I actually ended up liking it, a lot. It grew on me, turning the ‘slides’ and listening to the story of the daughter/sister in ppt environment. I loved the chapter about the uncle, looking ...more
Jun 27, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
John Mauro
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer Egan's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, is (in)famous for its penultimate chapter, which is written as a PowerPoint presentation. While polarizing among reviewers, this is actually my favorite chapter in the book. I find it amazing how Jennifer Egan could capture such a wide range of emotions in a PowerPoint presentation, which centers on the intra-family dynamics of one of the main characters, Sasha. Her son, Lincoln, is autistic and obsessed with slight pause ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
It took a chapter or two for me to hit a groove with Goon Squad and from there I was hooked. It was definitely an interesting ride through time with evolving and changing narrators - a literary puzzle which sort of comes together at the end. I did feel like I would like to have been at the concert and to have met and spoke with Sasha and Lulu and Bernie. There is a striking realism to Egan's writing that is highly compressed but also evocative. I can see now why they gave her a Pulitzer for this ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was ok

Not for me. But I really wanted it to be as it sounded so good. Had to push myself in the end just to see it through. As for the point of the PowerPoint section - what's the point? It was just an extra pain in the ass when the novel was already a pain in the ass. This book has put me off reading any future Pulitzer Prize winners now. Started off great, and I did like Bennie's side of the novel, but then the whole thing just decided to fall of a cliff. Don't have a problem with chapters featuring
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Jennifer Egan’s 2017 novel, Manhattan Beach, has been awarded the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. Egan was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She is also the author of The Invisible Circus, a novel which became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories, The Keep ...more

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