Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Visit From the Goon Squad (2011)

Title:  A Visit From the Goon Squad
Author:  Jennifer Egan
Published: 2010, Borzoi Book - Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Accolades: 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award, long list for 2011 Orange Prize

A Visit From the Goon Squad is a novel that is written as a collection of stories that center around Bennie Salazar a music executive, his kleptomaniac assistant Sasha and the people that weave in and out of their flawed lives. Each chapter is a story that moves through the timeline of Bennie and Sasha's lives and as readers we witness the moments that changed them.

A Visit From the Goon Squad has received critical acclaim, but somewhat mixed reviews from the "everyday" reader.  I understand the division. This book is difficult to pinpoint and to categorize - just writing the first paragraph of this review was hard because it is a difficult book to explain.  But I will tell you that I loved it.  The writing is crisp, honest, and inventive.  There are proses in this book that are so vivid and accurate that I had to stop and read them again and again.

"It's turning out to be a bad day, a day when the sun feels like teeth."  page 60

Time is a key element to the story (The Goon Squad is a reference to time) - it is always there hovering over the characters and they each feel its impact as it changes their relationships, values, and themselves. The book weaves back and forth through a time span of about 50 years starting in the 1970's and ending in a somewhat dystopian 2020.  My favorite chapter is the chapter that is written as a power point by a teenager of today. It is so in the moment - our current time - it is brilliant.

A Visit From the Goon Squad is a remarkable, strangely moving story about the one thing we can't escape - the impact of time.

My Rating:  5 out of 5

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