Title: A Visit from the Goon Squad
Author: Jennifer Egan
Publisher: Anchor (2011)
Rating: 3 stars
This book is a sequence of chapters where characters–all connected in some way–share a slice of their life. I’m not quite sure if it’s a novel or a group of dove-tailing short stories, but A Visit from the Goon Squad is clever and superbly entertaining.
Beginning with Sasha and her klepto tendencies (this was probably my favorite chapter in the book), Egan tackles the corporate world of music. Sasha works for a major producer, Bennie. Bennie was also in a band when he was younger with a bunch of other characters…and so it goes until you’ve read all about marriages, affairs, abuse, vacations, rock stars, failure, drugs, among other things. Then you hit this chapter that’s comprised of powerpoint slides made by a young girl, and then all of a sudden it’s the future and you’re like handset, say what?
The book is hard to sum up just because SO many things happen to SO many different people, who are connected in SO many different ways. It gets a bit confusing honestly. I found myself having to go back and be like why is this person relevant…OH YEA *slaps forehead* because they were the one-time lover of that person or whatever.
That aside, Egan is absurdly talented. The stories draw you in and make you feel like you’re about to read a whole novel about each character, but alas you only have one chapter. But I’m definitely NOT knocking this style, because you get to see the characters from different points of view: their own, and someone else’s (sometimes multiple people). So in a sense you’re privy to all sides of the story, even though there are large chunks of time missing.
The story is largely dystopian and kind of hurts to think about so much suffering (there’s not like a war going on or anything truly, world-alteringly tragic. I guess what I’m trying to say is #firstworldproblems).
Many of the characters you see first in their prime and then later their lives deteriorate to the point that you’re like, why do you even try? The characters’ spectacular failures are enough to make you cringe in embarrassment. But at least #dark humor is amusing AND thought provoking.
There’s this weird gloomy feeling that sets in after you finish the book, like is this what my life is/will be? HOLY GOD…I need to get it together. *minor freak out*