Read a Book: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

3 Mar

“Time’s a goon right? Isn’t that the expression?” Jules had drifted over from across the room. “I’ve never heard that… time is a goon?”

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Apparently so. Which makes Time and the passing of it the very loose theme that loosely weaves this quirky, rock n roll laden book into coherency. Listed time and time again on numerous reviewers’ and authors Top Reads for 2010 (many of them found on the very necessary Book Site The Millions – like here and here ), usually incorporating the words; punk rock, drugs and rock and roll, 1970s music and washed up punk rockers – and the attraction was instant.

Unlike many books that try to set themselves against a backdrop of a nostalgic musical era, The Goon Squad was a compelling, quirky, sometimes uncomfortable read. Structured as a series of short stories, the central characters each have the voice of protagonist, as the story zig zags through time, the speaker’s identity not always immediately clear, clues as to the existence or age of children, state of marriage or mind the indicative clues.

At the centre of this time shifted story is Bennie Salazar, once a 1970s Punk Rocker, in the present, a washed up producer struggling on both the musical and matrimonial front. From there the stories spiral outwards, taking in Sasha – his kleptomaniac assistant, Scotty – the once musically talented, now virtually homeless trash collector, Dolly the tortured publicist, Kitty the B grade celebrity… and the list goes on.

As time lurches backwards and forwards, from the early hay days of playing punk rock and slam dancing, through turbulent twenties and thirties of broken love and friendships, drug and mental abuse through to the misery and acceptance of middle age, we follow and slowly warm to these broken characters as they fight off the tyranny of the inevitable Goon Squad that is time.

With an ending that will please any true music fan, this should get a look in for your top reads of 2011. And if you’re accused of being late to the party – just blame it on the Goon Squad.

“Time’s a Goon right? You gonna let that Goon push you around?” Scotty shook his head “The Goon won”

Robot Rating: 9/10 (and yet another contender for Top 5 Books of the Year)

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2 Responses to “Read a Book: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan”

  1. Kate March 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Chloe – it’s Kate here (from work!) I stumbled on this while googling for reviews on this book: I just finished it and LOVED it, too. That powerpoint chapter: sheer brilliance. I also loved Egan’s earlier book, The Keep – a dark, gothic story told in amazing narrative style. So lovely to *see* you here: hope all’s well!

  2. chloerobot March 4, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Good to see that the Google Algorithm is hard at work. I actually had mixed opinions about the Powerpoint Chapter – only because I was reading this on a Kindle and it wasn’t until I read reviews that I understood it was a PPT layout – plus on a Kindle it was very hard to read. I’ll have to sneak a look at a ‘real’ book and see what I was missing out on.

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