Vicki's Reviews > A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
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's review
Jul 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: everybodys-doing-it, novels

This is a 3.5 star book for me, but for reasons that make perfect sense in my head (trust me) but look insane when typed out (trust me), I'm going to rate it a four and ask you to mentally adjust downward instead of my typical practice of rating lower and asking you to adjust upward.

So the book was good, but it was good in a way I'm kind of not the world's biggest fan of -- upper middle class people making a lot of bad choices and crashing and burning and rising triumphantly and traveling the world (not to travel, but to have different backdrops for the story) and an improbable storyline. Typical NYT-adored littry fikshun. But it's not as improbable (plotwise) as Franzen's, and Egan shows a much steadier finger on the pulse of human behavior and motivation than he does (IMO. And especially when it comes to women). And it was funny and clever and the powerpoint chapter was much better than I had anticipated and the final chapter redeemed the book for me (to the extent that it needed redeeming) because it was wonderful.

But. What the fuck was with the cheap shots at DFW? At first I was just like, "Oh, she's biting his style for this Jules chap because she wants to make a point that he really was very talented indeed, and the loss of his motivation to write was a problem not just for the sister that he's mooching off of, but also for the world that is denied his talent!" But given that DFW actually had some mental problems (assuming that you'd have to have at least clinical depression issues to commit suicide, which I honestly feel like an asshole for writing out, but that just pisses me off more at this choice of hers, because I would NEVER have ventured into armchair psychology of this sort if it didn't feel necessary to defend him / defend my irritation at her, and UGHHHH), making the thinly-veiled DFW character a bipolar unapologetic attempted rapist was completely uncalled for. And tacky! Just, what was she doing? Why? You can't grind an axe against someone who has so recently taken his own life. Not in good taste, at least.

So, now that you see how much that angered me, you can see how good the last chapter must have been. I'd read more of Egan's work.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Vicki I was going to read this anyway (just brought it home from the library), but now that I know Goodreads will give books to kids if I add it to my shelf I'm jumping it ahead in my queue.

Cynthia I have a copy if you want to borrow.

Katie I think it's funny that the final chapter redeemed the book for you, and the final chapter for me took me right out and dropped it a star. We'll have to discuss further!

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