Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Some odd similarities between this book and the last one I read (i live in the future and here’s how):

  1. BOTH social commentaries on influence of time
  2. BOTH have all lowercase titles

What they don’t have in common is the fact that I couldn’t put the latter down.

I feel kind of silly even reviewing it here because it’s a national bestseller, it won the Pulitzer Prize and it seems like everyone else already read it…but this is my blog so…here goes.

Switching Perspectives

What impressed me most is the seamless jumping between perspectives. Each chapter focuses on a different character. Some are told in the first-person, others in third. But you feel as wrapped around each character’s life as you were around the last. There’s no feeling of “uch, another one?” Yes, you feel sad to say bye to the inner-workings of the last character, but you are dying to learn a new set of idiosyncrasies, quirks, hang-ups, self-defeating prophecies and so on.

One of the most chilling chapters is written in second-person narrative. “Out of Body” is the chapter title and its opening lines struck me so much I re-read them a few times:

Your friends are pretending to be all kinds of stuff, and your special job is to call them on it. Drew says he’s going to straight to law school. After practicing awhile, he’ll run for state senator. Then U.S. senator. Eventually, president. He lays all this out the way you’d say, ‘After Modern Chinese Painting I’ll go to the gym, then work in Bobst until dinner’, if you even made plans anymore, which you don’t — if you were even in school anymore, which you aren’t, although that’s supposedly temporary.

Time is the Goon Squad

This was definitely one of those books that falls into your life at just the right time, so it seems like it’s pointing right at you, causing you to look at the world around you with more clarity.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. The passage of it, how I wish I could freeze it as some points, fast forward others, and always, always rewinding.

A NYTimes review of the book stated: “Hanging over Egan’s book is a sense that human culture is changing at such warp speed that memory itself must adapt to keep pace.”

This anxiety over time speeding by and our inability to make sense of it all speaks to Bilton’s discussion in his i live in the future and here’s how. It made goon squad an unlikely but stunningly playful companion to Bilton’s drier view of things.

Amazon should suggest these two books together to people interested in either one separately.


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