A Visit From the Goon Squad

Egan, Jennifer (Book - 2010 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Visit From the Goon Squad

Item Details

Random House, Inc.
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 intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

Baker & Taylor
Working side-by-side for a record label, former punk rocker Bennie Salazar and the passionate Sasha hide illicit secrets from one another while interacting with a motley assortment of equally troubled people from 1970s San Francisco to the post-war future.

& Taylor

Working side-by-side for a record label, former punk rocker Bennie Salazar and the passionate Sasha hide illicit secrets from one another while interacting with a motley assortment of equally troubled people from 1970s San Francisco to the post-war future. By the National Book Award-nominated author of Look at Me.

Authors: Egan, Jennifer
Statement of Responsibility: Jennifer Egan
Title: A visit from the Goon Squad
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 273 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Notes: "This is a Borzoi book"--T.p. verso
Subject Headings: Punk rock musicians Fiction Sound recording executives and producers Fiction Older men Fiction Young women Fiction
Genre/Form: Psychological fiction
Topical Term: Punk rock musicians
Sound recording executives and producers
Older men
Young women
LCCN: 2009046496
ISBN: 9780307592835
Branch Call Number: FIC E
Research Call Number: JFE 12-3450
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Miranda's pick

We read this for our January meeting and LOVED it!

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Kind of a highbred between a novel and a collection of short stories. If you like rock and roll and innovative narrative structure, check it out.

Jan 23, 2014
  • KateHillier rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Interesting structurally speaking. It reads more like a collection of short stories rather than a novel and these short stories are loosely linked. We jump back and forth in time between various points of view and locations but the underlining theme of self destructive people finding unplanned happiness and still being sort if miserable carries through. Bonus points for the chapter/story told as a Powerpoint slide show.

Jan 17, 2014
  • wmallen rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Brilliant nonlinear glimpses of a host of troubled but empathetic characters loosely connected to the music biz. All reflections on how we grow or don't grow over time. Some moments are very funny, others troubled and sad, but all are fascinating to read. The sheer creative skill in assembling the events is amazing. Want to read again.

Oct 21, 2013
  • danielestes rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad is a narrative adventure, often challenging and often perplexing. There's a minimally-defined cast of characters, some more prominent than others, whom we drop in on at various points in their lives. I recommend approaching Goon Squad more as a series of moments and moods than looking for some grand, all-encompassing design.

But in spite of the tangled plot, I never once ceased to enjoy Egan's style. The stage she sets is enticing even if events start jumping around after a while. There's one chapter in particular, delivered entirely as amateur Power Point slides, which I feel works perfectly but is sure to frustrate most readers as unconventional.

Jul 17, 2013
  • vansce rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This one is tough--not just because the parts seem like stories that one wants to link more than they are--because the author seems to jump around a bit with sympathies.

Apr 17, 2013
  • joliebergman rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

New rule: although the writing is nice, I will not spend additional time reading about charactors I do not like. Especially when I would spend even less time with them had they been living people talking to me in person.

Jan 03, 2013
  • noisyflowers rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Because it eschews a linear narrative and instead flashes backwards and forwards to a series of interconnected characters I suppose A Visit from the Goon Squad has a certain book-nerd appeal but the literary devices just felt like window dressing to me. The characters and situations were poorly fleshed out and I feel that the puzzle like structure of the book was just mis-direction, a way for the reader to focus on making the connections rather than how weak the individual parts actually were. Of course the most outrageous thing about this book isn't that it won the Pullitzer Prize (although that's certainly outrageous), it's that after setting the bar so impossibly low, the jury still decided not to award the prize the following year.

Sep 08, 2012
  • JCS3F rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reads like the Cliff Notes of larger, better book. The issues Egan is trying to tackle (addiction, degradation of the music industry, the complexity of relationships, autism) and the shift in NYC's zeitgeist over three decades requires more from the author. Less pushes the characters toward cliché and only allows the author to briefly touch upon issues that could consume an entire book on their own. By comparison, DeLillo takes over 800 pages to fully accomplish this in 'Underworld'. In those 800+ pages, DeLillo delves deeply into similar issues and spans a similarly broad time span. But the reader is left with an appreciation of the issues and the mysteries in 'Underworld'. 'A Visit from the Goon Squad' misses an opportunity to have a similar impact.

Aug 30, 2012
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book is such an enjoyable read. It really knocked my socks off. Egan shows such great heart as she draws her damaged, yet lovable characters. She is some writer. This book made me feel so grateful for my simple, uncomplicated post middle-aged life. I want to read more of Ms. Egan.

Jul 19, 2012
  • orphicfiddler rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

More of a short story collection than a novel. It's a bit on the overrated side, but there's enough charm in some of these stories to make it stick for a while, even if only in fragments. Rather like a temporary tattoo - the cursed thing never fully adheres to the flesh, the effect is nothing that'll last a lifetime, but you still can't help thinking it's awfully cool.

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