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A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad

Book - 2010 | First edition
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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: First edition
ISBN: 9780307477477
Call Number: FICTION EGAN 2010
Characteristics: 273 pages : illustrations ; 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.

"Tale is told through vignettes, jumps back and forth in time and at one point, uses PowerPoint slides to tell the story." -- Provided by My Librarian Alison.

This award winning novel follows the trials and tribulations of a SF Punk band over the decades.

Beautifully written with a well-crafted plot and interesting character studies.

The story of intersecting lives told in a non-linear narrative. Their interpersonal struggles lead them through personal despair, redemption, and ultimately to a place of understanding about the world around them.

From the critics

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Jun 10, 2020

This multi-perspective story has some brilliant scenes, but it's lack of cohesiveness and too many characters - I lost track of how the characters were related to each other, which they mostly are - is a hindrance. If it's about anything, it's the relationship of people to time. Not my particular cup of tea, but that may be my advancing age talking.

Mar 31, 2020

DGG: I also enjoyed Egan’s A Visit from The Goon Squad, the story of a record executive and the troubled young woman he employs. Note that there’s an “experimental” section towards the end that is all but impossible to read on the Kindle.

Mar 08, 2020

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. For that reason, I made myself proceed past the first two chapters despite a longing to pick up something else on my shelf. Ultimately, I am glad I persevered, although I found the novel uneven in its impact. Its beauty lies partly in its structure as a collection of short stories, articles and a powerpoint about a group of individuals connected in some way to punk record exec Bennie Salazar. I actually wanted to know more about Bennie, and I never got that, but a few of the short stories were stunning in their beauty--especially around page 100 in my copy, a short story/chapter about Scotty in middle age. I appreciated how Scotty wrestles with ideas of experience and exclusion, and how he asserts the possibility of value in the devalued (the fish from the poisoned Hudson, the junkie musicians). His loneliness is written with aching beauty, and it is these moments in the book that won it the Pulitzer. The novel provides terrain upon which to examine the slippery nature of morality and questions of what worth is--what is "worthwhile"? What is a life well-lived? And of course as is evident by the title, the novel is preoccupied with the relentless passing of time (the goon squad that roughs us up and robs us blind) but also with showing that there is no simpler, better time, certainly not in youth, and so nostalgia is inherently flawed. Strangely the one character that is given consistent agency and seems to wield a mesmeric influence over the people in her path is Lulu (a very minor character) and she is considered to have been "born a queen"--so the idea that we can make good choices to gain control in our lives is kind of jokingly and subtly undermined by the fact that the one person who seems to be without error is someone "born with it". An intelligent, gritty, but at times soulful novel-- Lots to think about here.

Jan 07, 2020

Egan's novel is fragmented and inconsistent. The only redeemable quality of this clashing, often droning and incomprehensible story is the interjection of a published article by the story's protagonist(at least I think it was the protagonist? The story is so confusing that I'm not exactly sure) who works as a journalist covering an apocryphal up-and-coming pop star. The article is masterfully and cleaverly written as Egan balances sharp syntax with a humorous and humanistic approach to depict a young musician with everything to lose which provides contrast to the story's aging, and frankly underwhelmingly boring, rock star with nothing to lose in his attempts to return to stardom. I recommend reading the article which is sandwiched between a vast nothingness of narrative jabbering. Otherwise, skip this novel.

Dec 14, 2019

Horrible book. It's shameful that this won a Pulitzer. Total waste of time.

Jul 27, 2019

Like many others, I got lost early. After 30 pages I gave up. How does writing this confusing get awards?

Jul 21, 2019

Well. So. Anyway. When I picked up this Pulitzer Prize-winning, highly acclaimed, lots-o-buzz novel by an author of a book I'd liked very much (The Keep), the last thing I thought would happen would be that I'd find it derivative, especially since there are so many comments about how different it is. But two chapters in, it was like I was transported back to the early 80s, Jay McInerny, Bret Easton Ellis, Bright Lights Big City time. And that wasn't a good thing. A second person narrative might have been WOW in 1983; it was more "Really? This again?" in 2011. However, this novel (really a series of interconnected short stories) did improve for me; some of the middle stories like Lou on the safari, the actress and the general, and Bennie and his wife in the suburbs were excellent. The end was just awful; I was embarrassed for Egan over how ludicrous and cringingly plain stupid her vision of the future in the final chapter was. The famed PowerPoint chapter was -- cute, I guess. While Egan is certainly talented, her writing in this book was so showy, look-at-me and her message (people age, time goes by, some change, some don't) so mundane that I was often annoyed and/or snorting in derision. Moments of brilliance could not possibly balance out all of the faults. Too bad. I really wanted to like it.

Feb 07, 2019

After reading three or four chapters of this book I was completely lost. I put the book down and didn't return to it for a couple of days. I tried to pickup where I'd left off but it became obvious that that was to be a losing cause. Although I very rarely do this, I started the book over. I could hardly put it down. When I reached the end I sat stunned by what I'd experienced.
This is a book I'm not soon to forget.

It’s rare for me to read a book and not want to gobble it up, find out what happens and MOVE ON to the next book. I am plot driven. This book has changed me. A disparate group of people reside in a sometimes historical and sometimes futuristic pop culture. Each character passes through different decades until they reach the information-driven and publicly documented 21st century. Through unrelenting portraits and intertwined plots, the book flows and interweaves pieces into a fascinating whole. People fascinated by the human condition, but not necessarily wanting answers about it, will enjoy this book. My favourite chapter is a preteen girls’ Powerpoint presentation on her family. Be warned: this book has a few pretty grim sketches of relationships and some graphic scenes – but these are few vignettes among many. A particularly fascinating read for anyone who’s lived through the 1980’s and 1990’s. (submitted by JW)

May 31, 2018

fascinating book. quite complex. one almost needs a score card of the characters. excellent writing. liked her Manhattan Beach more.

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