Books, Review
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A Visit From The Goon Squad

There’s a few things in l this world that I don’t like – bugs, noisy neighbours, not enough icing on cakes and rude people, just to name a few. But what I like even less than these things (except perhaps for rude people), is a book that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is one of these books.

Cover of "A Visit from the Goon Squad"

The story starts off with Sasha, a young woman with a penchant for stealing and what seems like an inability to connect with her fellow man. She works as the assistant for Bennie Salazar – record producer, divorced, not far off being classified as non-relevant. From these two people, the book then follows the people whom they have come into contact with in their lives – Bennie’s old high school band mates; his ex-wife; the children of the guy who gave Bennie his big break; Sasha’s best friend in college; her uncle. The story moves back and forth through time, but everything still seems to be happening at the same time. In the end, the story comes together and things that you thought were meaningless when you read them, turn out not to be at the end.

However, while everything comes together in the end, that’s all it is – the end. There’s no climax, no great revelation. And who are the “Goon Squad” anyway? They are mentioned a couple of times, but I seem to have missed along the way who they are and what they do, largely due to my lack of focus – I thought at one stage it was a metaphor for time, which would make sense as time and the way it ravages us and our relationships seems to be the focal point of this book. I feel that I may have felt more positively towards the book if the end had a bit more meat on its bones. It seemed as though there was something missing.

The story rolls along at a average sort of pace, but doesn’t go up, it doesn’t go down – it just goes. I found it hard to get into, as there were never any moments that leapt off the page at me and threatened to run me down with their amazingness. There were certainly moments where the book got a little bit more interesting, but they were few and far between.

In the end, it was an ok read – but I don’t think it’s something that I would read again. If you like stories about the relationships between people, then this will probably be right up your alley, but if you like something with a little bit more of a plot, I would perhaps save this for a very rainy day

RATING – 6 out of 10.

WHO SHOULD READ IT – As previously mentioned, those people who are interested in the workings of the human relationship. Unfortunately as I am an anti-social sort of person, I don’t fall into this category.

WHO YOU’LL LOVE – The only character that felt real to me (which is strange as she is probably the most unreal character of them all) was Kitty Jackson, she knew how to tell it like it was.

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2 Comments

  1. The “goon squad” refers to time itself. So it means that time gets to all of us and brutally beats us up…:)

    The “goon squad” can also refer to the random people we meet in life that get to us, or that we get to. So we’re all part of the goon squad.

    By showing the lives of disparate characters, many only marginally connected, it illustrates this idea more powerfully than if Egan just focused on the experiences of one character. That even when things technically work out in the end, as it did with the kleptomaniac character, no one is left unmarked.

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    • Hey thanks for that – the title makes much more sense now. I figured it was something to do with time, but I found it so hard to focus on this book that I think I missed A LOT! I will probably have to read it again – but next year maybe 🙂

      Like

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