Hello party people! I told you I would have more reviews, and here is the first, of a few, that I am starting to crank out! The book I read was this time was A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I had this book for years, and never actually read it until now. The was one of the books that I totally bought based on it’s cover. I know, I know, “Never judge a book by it cover,” and I didn’t I just like the Tiffany-esque blue color in the middle of a pile of books at Costco, and figured it was worth a shot. I ended up reading this as part of my BookRiot Book Riot Read Harder Challenge as my “A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade” challenge as this book won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and this whole time I just thought it was pretty. Haha.
So, Ms. Egan, has written a few books, in which A Visit From the Goon Squad, seems to have been her most recent novel in 2010. She has, and maybe still does, write short stories for New York Times Magazine, and recently had a collection of short stories serialized and published in the New Yorker. Not much else is written or on her website.
The book! The book itself is really good! I found it clever and liked how all the stories intertwined together. The book is a collection of short stories, all revolving around Benny Salazar, a big music executive. The stories go backwards and forwards in time and has a six degrees of separation feel, as the stories go from Benny to his assistant, Sasha, to his childhood band mates, to their lives and then to the lead singer of the band that Benny discovers that ends up making him famous. The title comes from a line in the book, where the now washed up rock star says that “Time is a goon” and this is the general theme of the book. It’s a look at time and how it effects the characters whether time was a goon robbing them of happiness, or if time was more gentle leading some characters to freedom and self discovery. I’ve read some reviews, saying that this book was depressing, and I don’t think it is. I think it is extremely realistic. Not everyone ends up happy or famous, sometimes shit happens. I like the honesty of it all. One of the most interesting chapters is the second to the last, when it is narrated by 12 year old Alison, Sasha’s future daughter, and is told in the form of PowerPoint slides. It’s really cool, as Alison has an autistic brother who is obsessed with the pauses in rock songs, and Alison bonds with him, by making slides that state the song, how long the pauses are, and how awesome the song is. Here is a link to see the slide show in action.
Overall, the book is interesting. It can be confusing at times to remember how the characters are connected, especially since not all the stories take place in the same time and some characters have stories in different times and continents, but it all comes together. If you want cool collection of stories that semi tell the tale of the rise on an executive in the rock and roll industry and examine how many different ways lives can turn out based on decisions and circumstances, then this book is for you. It may not be the Stephen Hawking Brief History of Time type examination of time, but it does make you think a little bit, especially about those you may have lost touch with and what they may be doing now.
So, as always thanks for reading and leave me a comment below! If you’ve read it, wanna read it, hated it, loved it, totally bought it based on it’s pretty cover, like I did, let me know! And be kind to each other as “Time is a goon, the one you ignore because you are so busy worrying about the goons right in front of you.”