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A Visit From The Goon Squad (2010)

A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
Author
Rating
3.63 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0307592839 (ISBN13: 9780307592835)
languge
English
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publisher
Knopf
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A Visit From The Goon Squad (2010)
A Visit From The Goon Squad (2010)

About book: Call it William S. Burrough's cut-up technique, call it post-modernism, call it post-structuralism--whatever you call it, it worked for me. In most chapters of this novel, one visits a character at one point in time, and in the next chapter, a minor character becomes the major character. But one swings back and forth from the late 70s until ~2035. And the author revels in varying her technique--some chapters are close third person, some first person, one in second person, one is even a series of power point slides made by a child who expresses her feelings in that manner. The most innovative structure is in the third chapter, entitled Safari: one travels from head to head of people on a Safari in successive close third person points of view, but one traverses from one head to another via an author omniscient perspective offering the most shocking details of the character's future, then focusing on another characters view of these events, then settling down into the original time period in close third person in the second character's head. It worked brilliantly.And seeing the characters over time allows Egan to tell her tale of searches for authenticity in life and art, struggles and failures. Benny is a punk rocker in 1979 who meets his mentor, Lou, a producer. Bennie starts a successful production company. Bennie and his wife experience child raising and selling out, living in a wealthy enclave and socializing with those who would have abhorred the young punk rocker. Bennie tanks his company. Benny starts again. Bennie uses the world's corruption to offer the world an authentic musical voice. But the narrative is spread out through those of others and presented out of time sequence. And there are ten or so other characters into whose head the reader peaks. Never the same time period with the same character. I read this on being pointed from a review of John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar--a book I loved--as a modern example of fiction influenced by Brunner. But Brunner was science fiction. My one critique of Egan is that the chapters set in the future would have benefitted from consulting with a science fiction writer. Does she really think we'll still be using power point in exactly the way it's used in 2010 (and a child using it at that) in 2035? Sure the cell phone/Internet thingies she invents are neat. But the world building is pretty curt. Okay, I can see how in 2009 when this was being written, post-GW Bush and one year into Obama's gun-ho ramping up in Afghanistan and refusal to investigate Bush's war crimes, that she'd envision two decades of perpetual war and a security state followed by a turning away from both. This was written pre-Snowden. But she dashed that off in one short paragraph. But that's because this is at heart literary fiction: the characters are the story. And oh are they compelling. And this is post-modern fiction. The reader gets a view of a whole life at once, and the lives with which it is entangled, and finishes with more questions than answers. Is authenticity possible? Is it desirable? Is there such a thing as selling out? Can anyone other than the "seller" judge?Strongly recommended. Perfection. Writing more engaging than maybe any I've read before? You benefit from reading it quickly as it jumps around a lot, but you get to revisit characters in unpredictable ways. Her vision of the future was the cherry on top at the end, a casual glimpse at not-quite-dystopian Manhattan. I came to care about every single person she created and miss them as I continued reading. Somehow, it was just perfectly moving.
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Reviews
Shera
The first book I've read in a long time that I would recommend without reservation. I loved it!
mcomco
Well written book, very unique style of storytelling.
kieranboston
Marvelous disjointed whirl.
Jess
Did not like this.
gabby
Loved it twice.
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