¹ Read è A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan è Spoiler alert You will get old You will die Things will never be like they are right now And yet, how things are right now will determine how they are in the future This is so.
The goon in the title of this book is time It opens with a quote from Proust, the poet laureate of memory, about how we cannot recapture the people we were in past the places where we were those people, but rather that those people exist within us, always And that, it seems to me, is or less the book, in a nutshell But, oh, how it gets there How the story unfolds stories, really is breathtaking This the best book I ve read this year.
A collection of narratives they aren t really stories centered around various record industry denizens an aging producer, his assistant, her college best friend, the producer s mentor, his wife s brother, a publicist, etc Goon Squad is a novel about lives It opens with Sasha, the beautiful, troubled assistant to record producer Bennie Salazar and continues on through a host of characters who knew them And knew is the word here, for the lesson of the book seems to be that we are not the same people we were before Those people are dead, and yet the people we all became the sagging, sad, tired, knowing people we are now those people are inextricably tied to the people we were We are simultaneously incapable of recovering what was lost and yet bound to know what it is that we re missing.
Does this sound like the book is horribly, horribly sad It isn t It s beautiful and clever and very smart, and, okay, a little bit heartbreaking One of my favorite aspects of the book is how it deals with technology Facebook, in the novel, is a kind of memory, excavating lost lives from the ether, reconnecting people with the people they were beforeor at least the people they knew before And in the end, it s a burst of horrible, relentless technology that seems to save the music business And one of the most powerful chapters of the book is told in powerpoint To wrench soul from the teeth of a Microsoft product is truly a feat unto itself In fact, this book may be one of the most subtly speculative works of fiction I ve read It presents a future near enough to include all of us, close enough to be recognizable, and still strangely different from where we are today.
I realize this review dances around the book It tells you what the book is about without really telling much of what the story is And that s because the story of the book wouldn t sound like much on its own Some people grow up They work in the music business Their friends die, and then so does their business But those people keep going They have lives and love affairs and children They make new friends and rediscover people they assumed were dead Their lives cross with one another in myriad ways And then they cross again I keep returning, again and again to the section on Jocelyn, a girl who ran away from home to be with a record producer, a man who spit her out almost before he was done chewing her up The passage is on page 65, and it s one of several haunting paragraphs in Jocelyn s section We stand there, quiet My questions all seem wrong How did you get so old Was it all at once, in a day, or did you peter out bit by bit When did you stop having parties Did everyone else get old too, or was it just you Are other people still here, hiding in the palm trees or holding their breath underwater When did you last swim your laps Do your bones hurt Did you know this was coming and hide that you knew, or did it ambush you from behind This book, it ambushed me.
This is the best book ever that has a whole chapter done in power point I hate power point I think it was invented by the devil and given to humanity to make us even dumber than we are now I think teachers who use power point should be hog tied by their intestines and then sodomized by Mary Lou Retton and probably people in the corporate world too, but I don t know about that first hand, but I m sure they deserve even worse I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate power point, but Jennifer Egan can do a whole book in power point and I d it would probably be effective than most normal novelists are with whole pages filled with words at their disposal Back in November 2009 I proclaimed the ARC of Jonathan Dee s The Privileges the best novel of 2010 There are a few books that have come out that I haven t read yet, but which may be better Citrus County is one that I think might but I now know that this book is just as good, if not better, than Dee s This book has a a lame cover, b a lame jacket description, c a chapter kind of poking fun jesting at DFW s writing style, and d a chapter written in power point but still with all of these apparent negatives the book is awesome I m not going to try to sell you on the book Coming from a punk background I know that too many people liking something inherently diminishes the enjoyment one can get out of something Since Jennifer Egan is already a fairly popular author, and me already being late to the game with liking her for years I thought she was Janet Fitch, I knew they were different people, but I thought they were synonymous with each other I can t risk you or anyone else that hasn t already read her finding out how great she is and stealing some of my precious enjoyment from me for example it s a scientific fact that people who listened to Green Day when they were on Lookout in 1993 enjoyed 97% than they enjoyed them 12 months later in 1994 when everyone liked them The enjoyment ratio flew way down and the music essentially didn t change There is only so much enjoyment in the world to split up, fortunately there is an infinite amount of pain and sorrow so we can all partake in that Anyway, now that I ve gotten that pesky talking about the book out of the way Let us turn to one of the points in the power point chapter For those of you who haven t read the book, and will not read the book and steal my enjoyment from me the chapter deals with a family The daughter of the family is the narrator, or constructor of a power point journal Her younger brother is semi autistic He has a thing for silence in music Pauses He makes loops of the different silences, he graphs them for duration and effect And there is a fairly interesting description of different pauses in the history of rock music, but with two of my favorite examples left out, and with one artist who made too much use of them, but who used them effectively also left out One The best use of the pause in music well in punk music is in the Sex Pistols song Bodies That NOFX is mentioned in the chapter and Bodies isn t, is well a travesty While it s not as surprising a false ending as Please Play This Song on the Radio or as quirky funny jokey, it is effective for punk pathos I read once in a book I think it was England s Dreaming that the sound of the Sex Pistol s imploding was captured at the end of Belsen was a Gas during their last show in my reality they never re formed, so we are talking 1978 here , when there was just silence for a second That silence was preceded by the one in Bodies though where all of the fury was released in a string of almost nonsensical uses of the word fuck Two Sunny Day Real Estate, Seven Here the use of short almost micro pauses and one slightly longer pause work to create a expectation, excitement and anxiety One could argue that there are not pauses in this song, but that argument is wrong Maybe it wouldn t fit in the dynamic of the chapter because it would be very difficult to capture the pauses to sample them More mention should be made of the first Sunny Day Real Estate album Three Matthew Sweet The man made an art out of the false ending He deserved to be mentioned in a chapter dealing strongly with pauses and silence in rock songs I m not a huge fan, but he should be given a mention Hopefully this aside has convinced you to not read this book and allow me to enjoy it than if you stole some of my pleasure.
hell s bells believe this hype.
this book is the saddest, truest, wisest book i have ever read in a single day which is not to belittle it my tear assing through it is because i did not want to stop reading it and resented any interruption that tried to get in my way i am someone who plans things i have timetables in my head i have to, in order to get everything done nothing important, just at 8 00 i will untangle my necklaces while i watch my netflix at 10 00, i will fold my laundry and then pay bills, etc etc this book ruined all of my good intentions i read straight through one mental time allotment after another, leaving dishes unwashed and e mails unanswered and i did not care one bit as i read, i kept thinking, this is exactly right this woman gets it, this is just what i was talking about the other day because karen has been doing a little bit of dwelling lately, and this book really captured so many universals of youth, adulthood and the rest she knows just how to twist the knife.
everyone has been praising this book since it came out, but all i knew going into it was that there was a powerpoint chapter and a dfw chapter which i had already read, at greg s command, months ago i didn t even know they were stories that combined to show facets of people s lives in different times and places and stages and manifestations i didn t know who would attain closure and who would fade away, i just thought it was another book by the lady who wrote invisible circus i had read invisible circus years ago and had been unimpressed, and then i start hearing all this talk about look at me and how it is this incredible book, but i looked at the cover and i thought no, thank you.
i am pretty sure i bought the keep, but it got sucked into one of the stacks here, never to resurface but then this comes out and greg and tom fuller are praising it to the heavens, and then tom gives me his copy to have forever, so i pretty much have to read it i do not disobey my work dad.
and as always, father knows best i have never seen crash because they tell me it is retarded, but i did see 21 grams and babel and as perros and 11 14 and all of those others disjointed narratives where one thing affects another thing and it s all connected, man as perros is the only one you need to see from the above list , but how often does it really work, and how often is it just flashy storytelling to compensate for lack of a true plot it s the same in the litworld i thought michael cunningham s the hours did it really well, and this well, this makes it work perfectly because it is less about the impact an action has upon others than having the opportunity to understand a character s motivations from witnessing snapshot chapters from different periods and the oh god not again it is like a sneeze zeitgeist of the pop cultural punk rock ical and historical climates of these poor broken characters.
but elizabeth it is not a downer it is not one of my downer books it is gently nostalgic and bewildered definitely bewildered she was thinking of the old days, as she and bennie now called them not just pre crandale but premarriage, preparenthood, pre money, pre hard drug renunciation, preresponsibility of any kind, when they were still kicking around the lower east side with bosco, going to bed after sunrise, turning up at strangers apartments, having sex in quasi public, engaging in daring acts that had than once included for her shooting heroin, because none of it was serious they were young and lucky and strong what did they have to worry about if they didn t like the result, they could go back and start again i mean gutpunch.
this kind of blithe optimism is exactly what touched me when i was reading shiver shake remember being indestructible i sure do this is also one of the few works where 9 11 is used tastefully and or less subtly, and the absence of the buildings is worked very well into the pervasive loss that holds this book together the NYU chapter is greg s favorite, and it is both heartbreaking on its own and bittersweet for me because it could have very easily been me i remember sunwarmed fire escapes between classes and bobst and for me it was mamoun s falafel, but regardless it was both familiar and far away i liked the naples chapter best, because for me it is storytelling 101 a perfect story and the last line kills me because muttered is the best possible word there, and it complicates what could have been a very easy and pat ending jennifer egan i luvs you.
come to my blog I attended a novel writing workshop last week and one of the things that I took home with me waswrite to express and not to impressI have a feeling, and I could be wrong on this since I am just a paying reader, that Jennifer Egan wrote this novel A Visit from the Good Squad mainly to impress Well, it won the nod of the Pulitzer jurors so the trick worked Each of the 13 chapters is told in different points of view mostly by people who the two main protagonists, Bennie, the gold eating record producer and his kleptomaniac assistant Sasha interact with in the different parts of their lives and in the different locales San Francisco, New York, Africa, Italy, etc The narration is not chronological it jumps from one time frame to another and it made my reading quite a struggle It talks about punk and rock music and bands that I have not heard of maybe because I am not an American and not really into those music genres The most talked about Powerpoint presentation seemed to be a refreshing way to tell a story and it provided a break or a pause, that seems to me as the main message of that chapter, from the usual plain narrative My only comment is that the slides look precise in delivering the messages that they want to impart when in fact, they should have been done by the 12 y o Ally, the daughter of the middle age Sasha They would have been interesting and realistic if there are illustrations or hand drawings done by a 12 y o rather than Venn Diagrams, Fishbone Analysis, Cause Effect, Bubble Charts, etc Though the slides look neat, they felt contrived if not overdone The main theme of aging and being sorry for misspent lives is subtly imparted and is the one of the strong points of this book Also, the frequent incorporation of strong brother sister relationships rather than the usual child parent, husband wife, friends, etc is also noteworthy Egan is very good at delivering her message via her characters She does not state the obvious but she lets her readers figure out the lessons by themselves through the events and how her characters react to those and how they interact with each other Having said that, the story itself could have gotten at least 4 stars from me However, Egan made the reading of this novel difficult with the multiple points of view and time frame I have no problem with her different locales and narrative styles Please don t get me wrong This is not a criticism but just a matter of personal preference Maybe this is the reason why I like Biographies and Memoirs I normally prefer stories that are focused on a single character from page 1 to the last page as it is like getting to know somebody from head to toe I hate shifting narratives about several characters especially if done abruptly and too frequently Reading all the 13 chapters of this book is like reading 13 short stories and while reading you have to figure out how one or two of the characters relate to the previous Not only you have to spot them but also think of their age relative to the previous chapter Then you have to go back and search what happened to that character in the last chapter where he she appeared A book this thick normally takes me only 2 4 days to finish but this one took me full drop all the other currently reading books 7 days When I read I normally become attach to my characters and it is just painful if in every 10 or so pages there are new ones that you have to meet and read about and if the character that you met and liked in the previous chapter reappears, you have to figure out what is his her age and who are those people around him her SPOILER ALERT The last chapter brings back the character of Alex, Sasha s boyfriend, who only appeared in the very first chapter This style reminded me of the circular narrative flow of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell s masterpiece, that is one of the most unforgettable reads that I so far had this year 4 stars Mitchell also used those styles multiple POVs, shifting narrative, different in fact, outrageously different time frames and different set of characters I even read some of the chapters with a huge Lexicon dictionary by my side, something that I normally hate my learn a word a day stage is now so yesteryears but it was worth the trouble in the case of Cloud Atlas.
SPOILER ENDS I just did not feel the same way with A Visit from the Good Squad.
Part of the problem, I think, is that there is no character here that is likeable nor a character I can empathize with It could be a cultural thing, e.
, eating gold flakes, klepto, fish as a gift, etc though But I just felt that all of the characters seem to be too distant and this book, overall, just alienated me.
I am not rating this with 1 star though I still liked the novel s universal message and the use of the Powerpoint Two saving graces of this novel, in my opinion.
I loved this book, which is funny because it s basically short stories, and I usually don t have the patience for short stories But these did me the favor of interlocking nicely in a way that made me feel like I was reading a novel, and also of being published with a very pretty cover with foil stamping, printed on that textured, slightly rough paper that assures you that you are reading a classy, classy book that will probably be nominated for something Time is a goon, we re told, and the older I get and I m not even old , the I realize that this is really true, as years fly faster and faster and things that once sounded like a long way off are suddenly in the rear view mirror like it is 2010 in one year, 9 11 will have been 10 years ago I used to think 70 seemed old With my parents newly retired and pushing the seven decade mark, though, anyone who dies before 80 seems like they died young I take heart in the fact that, barring a car crash, cancer, or freak tripping over the cat related catastrophe, I m still less than halfway done with my brief time on this planet Is this morbid Are you supposed to start pondering your mortality a year from 30, or is this some kind of commentary on The Times in Which We Live Or am I just shifting my fears that I won t end up doing any of the neat things I want to do into the future, the fear that time is only going to keep getting faster, and pretty soon we ll be talking about where we were on that day 20 years ago when Everything Changed, or seemed like it would.
This isn t really about the book, but it is Egan follows a bunch of characters who work in the music industry, ping ponging from life to life, from the present, to the past, to the future It makes total sense time s a goon it will creep up on you as quickly as turning a page Nostalgia is a trap too I don t miss the good old days for what they were, but for what lay ahead of me, the time I ve already spent in between then and now This book encompasses all of that, allowing us to see it all the way past regrets and mistakes shape our future choices, the way our lives will unfold and blossom or wither in ways we can t possibly expect, or maybe can exactly predict.
Oh, and it s also fabulously written in about a dozen different styles, from first to second to third person and in newspaper articles and even in, yes, PowerPoint graphics And it s about the music industry which is very cool but also big business and that s an interesting dichotomy, how do you commercialize and corporatize the spirit of punk rock, the primal scream of youth looking around and seeing nothing but waste, looking forward and seeing nothing but uncertainty The National Book Critics Circle Award A Penn Faulkner Award Finalist The freaking Pulitzer It has to be good, right I thought so, to the point that it was the only book that i brought with me on the plane this weekend, but I was really disappointed This book, a collection of quasi connected short stories, covers a span of time between the 1970s and 2020s and follows a variety of people, most notably a former punk rocker turned music executive and a young troubled kleptomaniac turned an adult troubled kleptomaniac The titular goon squad equals passing time and the major theme of the book seems to be, Hey, things change over time The first thing I noticed about the book is that I had already read several of the chapters in short story compilations and magazines over the past five or six years The second thing I noticed was that I didn t enjoy any of them I couldn t shake the feeling that Egan was distracting me from tired story lines and baffling, semi heartless characters with a slew of gimmicks For example This story is written in second person Please don t pay attention to the fact that it is merely one of a billion stories you have read in writing workshops about a love triangle between high, sad college students in New York City The lack of heart and not my style writing style did not blend well with the characters or stories, which seemed like a very over used collection of people and places A unhappy rich person who is not sure what to do with his life in New York City People unsure of what to do with their lives collected in a loft somewhere in New York City Some people on drugs and not sure how they got there, at the intersection of two streets in New York City Not that I don t think that you can write a successful, soul having book about unsure people in New York City I just didn t find this one touching or innovative or well written although I admit, the best story in the book is the often mentioned Power Point story I simply couldn t get over the fact that Egan seemed to have trouble having her characters really feel Often, she fell back on 1 mentioning 9 11 in a vague way or 2 mentioning that the character in question had tried to slit their wrists several times in the past or 3 having a dog bark in the distance Seriously A dog barks in the distance on the last page of the novel I hope that does not count a spoiler Oh, and I forgot to mention the worst thing Egan should have won an award for Worst Last Lines of Stories Again, these last lines seemed to be attempts at meaningfulness that really fell flat for me as a reader And while I ve read some reviews that call the work satire, and Egan a humorist, I often found the work silly and meaningless instead of funny and insightful I also kept getting the feeling that parts of the book was cobbled together that Egan was forcing some of her shorter works into the novel ish thing she was working on example the story about the general One of the other issues is that I can just think of so many better books in the last two years or so that were not recognized with such consistent praise like Maile Meloy s Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It It has fewer bells and whistles, but it has a boatload of well written stories and heartfelt characters Seriously, go read that book instead In the last story in the book, a huge crowd gathers for a concert not because they like the music, but because they have heard through social media that it is going to be a really great show This is exactly how I felt about the book itself I read some great reviews, I saw some friends mention it online, and i bought it without inquiring further The one difference, I guess, is that the concert in the book ends up being good.
I think part of the problem is that I went in with very high expectations But another part of the problem was that I wasn t made to care about any of the characters or their actions and that I found the innovative tools used to tell many the stories to be largely distracting and gimmicky There used to be two buildings in that empty space of sky A dog barked in the distance.
Jennifer Egan S Spellbinding Interlocking Narratives Circle The Lives Of Bennie Salazar, An Aging Former Punk Rocker And Record Executive, And Sasha, The Passionate, Troubled Young Woman He Employs Although Bennie And Sasha Never Discover Each Other S Pasts, The Reader Does, In Intimate Detail, Along With The Secret Lives Of A Host Of Other Characters Whose Paths Intersect With Theirs, Over Many Years, In Locales As Varied As New York, San Francisco, Naples, And AfricaWe First Meet Sasha In Her Mid Thirties, On Her Therapist S Couch In New York City, Confronting Her Long Standing Compulsion To Steal Later, We Learn The Genesis Of Her Turmoil When We See Her As The Child Of A Violent Marriage, Then As A Runaway Living In Naples, Then As A College Student Trying To Avert The Suicidal Impulses Of Her Best Friend We Plunge Into The Hidden Yearnings And Disappointments Of Her Uncle, An Art Historian Stuck In A Dead Marriage, Who Travels To Naples To Extract Sasha From The City S Demimonde And Experiences An Epiphany Of His Own While Staring At A Sculpture Of Orpheus And Eurydice In The Museo Nazionale We Meet Bennie Salazar At The Melancholy Nadir Of His Adult Life Divorced, Struggling To Connect With His Nine Year Old Son, Listening To A Washed Up Band In The Basement Of A Suburban House And Then Revisit Him In , At The Height Of His Youth, Shy And Tender, Reveling In San Francisco S Punk Scene As He Discovers His Ardor For Rock And Roll And His Gift For Spotting Talent We Learn What Became Of His High School Gang Who Thrived And Who Faltered And We Encounter Lou Kline, Bennie S Catastrophically Careless Mentor, Along With The Lovers And Children Left Behind In The Wake Of Lou S Far Flung Sexual Conquests And Meteoric Rise And Fall A Visit from the Goon Squad Is A Book About The Interplay Of Time And Music, About Survival, About The Stirrings And Transformations Set Inexorably In Motion By Even The Most Passing Conjunction Of Our Fates In A Breathtaking Array Of Styles And Tones Ranging From Tragedy To Satire To PowerPoint, Egan Captures The Undertow Of Self Destruction That We All Must Either Master Or Succumb To The Basic Human Hunger For Redemption And The Universal Tendency To Reach For Both And Escape The Merciless Progress Of Time In The Transporting Realms Of Art And Music Sly, Startling, Exhilarating Work From One Of Our Boldest Writers Time is a strange old fella, isn t it It creeps up on you and changes you bit by bit until you the new you and the old you are barely than strangers to one another.
You can see time as a continuum, a line stretching from the past into the future, a long straight road to travel along with occasional proverbialroad not takensplitting off to the side where barely perceptible changes accumulate one by one Or else you can look at it as a series of snapshots, a deck of cards randomly and carelessly shuffled, each one showing a face different from the rest life in snapshots And these snapshots are so different from one another, separated by the years of smart choices and poor choices, pain and happiness, gains and losses, laughter and tears, having formed an invisible network of scars that forever preclude us from following that once long ago good natured yet impossible advice ofPlease don t change just stay the way you arethe promise we can wholeheartedly make but no matter how hard we try we cannot keepAlex imagined walking into her apartment and finding himself still there his young self, full of schemes and high standards, with nothing decided yet The fantasy imbued him with careening hopeI still can easily remember being sixteen, not knowing anything besides the blissful strong willed ignorance of youth, where everything was just beginning, everything was still about to start, nothing was decided yet, and the world was one giant untapped possibility with no way of telling where time will eventually take you But time goes on, and now I can almost see thirty from this point in life and occasional gray hairs are creeping onto my templesyes, I know thirty is the new twenty and all that bullshit we tell ourselves to feel younger and preserve that feeling of endless, overwhelming potentiality and possibility that we so took for granted half a life ago , and there s not that much connecting me to that girl in the Land of Agoto borrow Stephen King s phraseTime passes, and with it we change, slowly and subtly but unavoidably, until one day, just like a character in A Visit from the Goon Squad notices, we stop being ourselveswithout recognizing it.
And then maybe we learn to appreciate the pauses in songs, like a young autistic kid the glimpses of whom we see through a powerpoint presentation made in the future by a 12 year old girloh dear, how much do I loathe the inescapable omnipresent powerpoints that have reduced public speaking to mindless reading of slidesbecause they make us think the song is over, and then it restarts and we get a temporary reprieve from the end, the real end, and it s that giddy feeling of almost having cheated the inevitable, of having gotten away with something at least for a while longer They resumed walking Alex felt an ache in his eyes and throat I don t know what happened to me, he said, shaking his head I honestly don t Bennie glanced at him, a middle aged man with chaotic silver hair and thoughtful eyes You grew up, Alex, he said, just like the rest of usThis is a book about losses and regrets as people change with time as well as glimpses of personal redemption, especially in the threads of the story connected to Sashawho I really started to love after the NYU chapter because how can you notIt s a book full of little often unseen connections between the characters who have touched each other s lives in the ways they may never understandRedemption, transformation God how she wanted these things Every day, every minute Didn t everyoneThis book is about people connected by time, connected by music, with moments in life captured just like the pauses in songs, full of realized hopes and shattered dreams, with constant reminders of beautiful fragility of life The road from A to B be it in time or on two sides of a musical record is not always in a straight line it curves around, zigzags madly, loops back, runs into life itself and is a path connecting the kaleidoscope snapshots of our beings that somehow will eventually fall into the beautiful but ever changing patterns, which before you know it will fall apart into another snapshot, something different and unrecognizable because time is a goon, after allI came for this reason I want to know what happened between A and BAnd in the meantime, while the unrelentless goon is mercilessly dragging us along, we can look around at the fragile beauty of life around and try to remember the world for what it is now because it will never be the same again Because time is a goon But for now, it s not yet overSure, everything is ending, Jules said, but not yetAnd for an instant he would remember Naples sitting with Sasha in her tiny room the jolt of surprise and delight he d felt when the sun finally dropped into the center of her window and was captured inside her circle of wire Now he turned to her, grinning Her hair and face were aflame with orange light See, Sasha muttered, eyeing the sun It s mine Reading this book is like going into the future and eavesdropping on a conversation between two old friends who haven t seen each other in yearsRemember Bennie Salazar Sure He was that record producer who used to put the gold flakes in his coffee Didn t he used to be in a band Yeah, he was a wannabe punk rocker in the 80s He was friends with Scotty back then Was Scotty normal then Because I heard he s completely shithouse rat crazy these days Oh, he s totally insane Hey, what was Bennie s assistant s name Sasha That s it Whatever happened to her I m not sure I heard she was a total kleptomaniac Really I heard some wild stories about her running around Europe back in the day Someone told me that a friend of hers drowned and really messed her up Huh It had to be something Oh, did you know Bennie s ex wife used to work for that PR woman Dolly The one who is trying to resurrect her business by helping that dictator rehab his image That s her Like she ll ever get steady work again after that disaster she put together Wasn t it Bennie s ex wife s brother who attacked that actress that s been hanging around that dictator, too That s right Small freaking world See what I mean You don t really know these people, but after a while, you get to know their stories and get a feeling for the connections between them That s what Jennifer Egan has done in this creative little novel By telling a series of stories loosely based around Bennie and Sasha s past, present and future, she builds a web of relationships that becomes large but always feels intimate.
One of her cuter tricks is an entire section told via a PowerPoint presentation written by a child in the future It sounds like a gimmick that might be good for a few laughs, but Egan actually uses it to give us a pretty detailed portrait of the future family of one of the characters we ve read about earlier in the book.
It s a well written and clever book, but the tone s a bit sad and depressing because it deals a lot with the loss and regrets that all adults have over what gets left behind as you move through life I might have liked it if I hadn t just read Super Sad True Love Story, which also dealt a lot with the down side of aging The two books also share a similarity in depicting a future state where smart phones and constant communication have changed society This one is mostly set in the past and present with only a couple of sections in the futue So while I liked this, I got a bit of a been there done that flavor when reading it, and I think I hit depression overload somewhere in the middle of this.
Normally I don t start reviewing books before I ve finished them, but saying how much I hate this book at the halfway point is cathartic.
I hate this book I HATE IT SO MUCH Is it well written Probably Complex characters Yeah, I ll give them that That being said, even reading one chapter of this leaves me so freaking depressed that I want to put it in the sink and light it on fire Also, the characters may be complex, but I don t care what happens to any of them I really don t There s this one part where a guy almost gets eaten by a lion no, it doesn t make sense in context I found myself wishing that the lion had gotten everyone At least it would have been interesting See Ray Bradbury s The Veldt for an example of how lions eating all of the characters can forward your plot THAT man could make a short story stand up and sing I also don t really know where this book is going, other than Life is awesome when you re young and free and sucks when you are old and have responsibilities and belong to the local country club Oh yeah, and then you die Probably in a painful manner resulting from your poor life choices Well, fan fucking tastic, I am so glad I get so many hours of enjoying THAT message If this book wasn t for book club, i would have stopped after the first chapter And though I have always pushed through books for book club before, this may be the first that I don t finish.
I hate this book This deserves the Pulitzer like Titanic deserved the Academy Award for best picture Yeah, I get it, Egan wrote a chapter in PowerPoint, she s soooooo innovative I ve made 30 PowerPoint presentations in my life, where s my goddamn award
¹ Read è A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan è Spoiler alert You will get old You will die Things will never be like they are right now And yet, how things are right now will determine how they are in the future This is so.