Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad was one of the best books I've read in the past few months. I'd just spent way too much time inside A Game of Thrones and wanted something contemporary to read. I loved that book, but after so many pages of impeding snow and swords x12415, I wanted a story set in my world. I'd also just read Insurgent, so I'd had a really heavy dosing of politics and I was left wanting to meet some characters whose lives were entangled in something less dramatic than blood.

A Visit from the Goon Squad had a lot of entanglement. I wasn't really sure what it was about when I picked it up - it was a book I'd bought on a recommendation, something I'd picked up because it had a cool title and I'm shallow. So I didn't know much going in.

This book.

It reminded me of Skins (UK obvs) but for an older generation. Every chapter was from a different perspective, but their lives were woven together in the slightest ways. If you wonder about a character only slightly mentioned in chapter three, you'll find out his entire life story in chapter eleven, told ten years in the past. It skips through a timeline of people, from a music producer who puts gold flakes in his coffee to the girl who was in love with him a decade ago, to her friend's ex-boyfriend's kids a decade later. I'm someone who always wonders about secondhand characters, so this book was essentially literary heaven for me.

How Jennifer Egan managed to pin down an entire character in one chapter is insane to me, much less do it several times over. She gave them life and quirks inside the tiniest details and moments of their lives, the smallest pieces forming into something that allows the reader to fully understand their character. It was like a bunch of short stories that could each be their own book, brilliantly put together in a scattered line of history.

Definitely one of the most unique, intriguing books I've read in a while, and I'm excited to check out her other works.

42 comments:

  1. If you liked this style of writing, you might like Olive Kittredge by Elizabeth Strout. It won the Pulitzer for fiction. It's a series of stories that somehow involve the mc, Olive Kittredge, but as you say with Egan's book, you learn a LOT about each new character in each story. Hard to write but brilliant when it's well done!

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  2. I have Egan's LOOK AT ME, and I can't wait. I'll track this down, too.

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