A Visit from the Goon Squad (a new favorite book)

A Visit from the Goon Squad 

Jennifer Egan

(mini book review)

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I’m going to start off with saying that I am completely in love with Egan’s writing. From the minute I was introduced, I’ve been smitten with her use of irony and ability to capture the essence of what it is to be human. I’m in awe.

 Mini-synopsis: Per usual, Egan developes a story surrounding many intricate and vivid stories. With music/the music industry as a main backdrop, Egan weaves the lives of Bennie, an aging punk rocker turned record executive, with one of his past assistants, Sasha. Passion for music and a search for direction and meaning in life drive the book. Each chapter depicts the lives of those surrounding Bennie and Sasha throughout their lives. The intersecting paths ultimately lead to a picture of each aspect of their pasts. And as the book jacket says, Egan uses these stories to show “self-destruction and redemption.”

This book is brilliant. Egan is brilliant. I fell completely in love with her way of showing the destruction and resilience of her characters. Her ability to create a character with a voice and soul is astounding, as each chapter weaves a unique voice into the mix. And she is seemingly flawless in her ability to create this web around Bennie and Sasha, in which one more aspect of their lives are revealed to us. I felt every possible emotion reading this book, from utter helplessness to hope. Egan’s writing made me feel like a child and an addict–I love when authors write in a way that we as readers become a part of the story, and oh man Egan does this so well.

Another aspect of the book that I loved was how Egan incorporated the changes of the music industry as well as the emergence of the online generation, and the impact these changes have made.

I know I’m not doing A Visit from the Goon Squad justice. This book just blew me away. It is so multifaceted that I can’t begin to explain the depth in this short post. So my advice is to read it. But you don’t really need my advice, it is a national bestseller, Pulitzer Prize winner, and you are all very very smart people. So you’ll read it.  And when you do (because, you really should), I’d love to hear what you think.

Here’s my favorite quote from the book:

“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,’ ‘search,’ and ‘cloud,’ had clearly been drained of life by their web usage.”

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