Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan will be at this year's National Book Festival here in DC.  So, of course, I had to check out her Pulitzer Prize-winning book from last year, A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Characters abound in this book.  We are introduced to two central names in the first two chapters, Bennie and Sasha.  Bennie is an aging record executive, and Sasha works for him.  The rest of the 13 chapters revolve around a cast of people mildly connected to the two names listed on the back of the book.  We hear from a girl who was a groupie of sorts for Bennie's punk band in the 70s, a man who went on a blind date with Sasha in the 90s and is now working with Bennie on a project in the nearish future, and Bennie's ex-wife.  One section is written completely in Powerpoint slides by Sasha's daughter.
I loved the writing of Goon Squad, and I attribute that mostly to a love for books that act more as mildly connected vignettes than a novel with a solid narrative.  Egan shows tremendous curiosity into the music industry, time, and the loss of innocence.  One character, as a teenager, spends the day that his mom leaves staring at the sun, permanently damaging his eyes.  The choices we make, as children, as teenagers, as grown-ups, affect our life's path in ways we may not be able to foresee (too pun-y?), but it doesn't mean that we are blameless.  This book is full of great metaphors, well-defined personalities, and especially discussions.  I can't wait to see her speak in September!

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