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February 12, 2016

A Visit From the Goon Squad

Goon SquadA Visit From the Goon Squad

By: Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel (2011), A Visit from the Goon Squad, is a short, perfectly designed novel with a lot to say.  The theme of the novel is best described by Scotty, a down on his luck janitor and ex-musician, when he visits a very successful music executive and former bandmate:  “I came for this reason:  I want to know what happened between A and B.”  The novel is broken up into 2 parts appropriately titled A and B and through a series of stories that weave together seamlessly, Egan shows us the highs and lows that encompass her characters’ lives.  Most of these characters are self-destructive, selfish or somehow damaged by their experiences.  However, through the novel we see them at their best and at their worst and the novel finishes on a high note.

At the novel’s center are the characters of Sasha and her music executive boss and former musician, Bennie, and the many people they come into contact with through the course of their lives.  Actually, the novel follows the peripheral characters as much as Sasha and Bennie.  Through a series of interrelated vignettes we discover the web of relationships and connections between characters that form a cohesive whole.

One of the chapters is told through a series of PowerPoint slides created by 12-year old Alison in which she describes her life in relation to her mom, dad and 13-year old autistic brother, Lincoln.  Alison uses a series of graphs, charts and descriptions to analyze their lives.  More than any other, this chapter displays Egan’s creativity and genius.  She is able to tell a compelling story through PowerPoint slides in great depth, and through a series of visual aids we can understand the family dynamics perfectly.

This novel has been on my reading list for a long time and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it.  It is a great novel and a quick read. (I could not put it down and finished it in one day.)  I hope you get a chance to read it!

Review By: Heidi Herald