A Visit From the Goon Squad

Egan, Jennifer

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Visit From the Goon Squad
Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs confront their pasts in this powerful story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307592835
Branch Call Number: FICTION EGAN 2010
Characteristics: 273 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

This collection of linked stories skips around in time and illumintates the lives of sometimes very loosely linked characters. Each story is so engaging and beautifully written, that it takes a while to even notice that their subject is time and how it changes us.

May. This is the best book I read in 2014. The goon in the title is time, and the main theme of this book is how time changes us, turns us into someone we wouldn't have recognized when we were young. This could be a real bummer of a theme, too, but the book is so smart, engaging and intricately p... Read More »

Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The interlinked stories in this book all revolve around a group of friends and episodes in their lives from their adolescence in the 1980s up through the present day and on into the future. Themes of music, youth, and getting old run through it. Like... Read More »

The goon in the title is time, and the main theme of this book is how time changes us, turns us into someone we wouldn't have recognized when we were young. This could be a real bummer of a theme, too, but the book is so smart, engaging and intricately plotted that the theme just kind of washed o... Read More »

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.

From the critics

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Jan 14, 2015
  • ladiablesse rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I picked up this book after listening to Egan interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel. Her focus on music drew me, as well as Proustian references.
From the outset, her writing is completely absorbing. I never doubted or mentally "rewrote" passages, even when the narrative gears down. She's a deft hand at etching discrete stories around characters savoury and otherwise, woven in a loose design around time and association that for me felt refreshing. Then there's her wicked sense of humour and keen take on character that shakes up what is in the end a schematic novel, an affecting response to this age of pulsing, information overload.

Sep 09, 2014
  • sfogs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Not the style of writing I really enjoy.
The stories all inter-wove, which made it interesting.
A slow read.

Jul 28, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
This is Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" in book form. There are 13 different point of views, yet everything hangs together, connected by simmering regret and bleak destinies. It is dark but also rippingly funny. It's a book that defies categorization.
- Stevie Feliciano, Hudson Park

Jul 09, 2014

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.

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