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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

A Visit from the Goon Squad

by

A Visit from the Goon Squad Cover

ISBN13: 9780307592835
ISBN10: 0307592839
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

“Pitch perfect. . . . Is there anything Egan can’t do in this mash-up of forms? Write successfully in the second person? Check. Parody celebrity journalism and David Foster Wallace at the same time? Check. Make a moving narrative out of a PowerPoint presentation? Check. . . . Although shredded with loss, A Visit From the Goon Squad is often darkly, rippingly funny. Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart. . . . No one is beyond the pale of her affection; no one is spared lampooning. . . . For a book so relentlessly savvy about the digital age and its effect on how we experience time (speeded up, herky-jerky, instantaneous, but also full of unbearable gaps and pauses), A Visit From the Goon Squad is remarkably old-fashioned in its obsession with time’s effects on characters, that preoccupation of those doorstop 19th-century novels.”

—Will Blythe, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“If Jennifer Egan is our reward for living through the self-conscious gimmicks and ironic claptrap of postmodernism, then it was all worthwhile. . . . A deeply humane story about growing up and growing old in a culture corroded by technology and marketing. . . . [A] triumph of technical bravado and tender sympathy. . . . Here, in ways that surprise and delight again, she transcends slick boomer nostalgia and offers a testament to the redemptive power of raw emotion in an age of synthetic sound and glossy avatars. Turn up the music, skip the college reunion and curl up with The Goon Squad instead.”

—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“It may be the smartest book you can get your hands on this summer.”

—Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times

“[A] spiky, shape-shifting new book. . . . A display of Ms. Egan’s extreme virtuosity.”

—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

 

“Jennifer Egan is a rare bird: an experimental writer with a deep commitment to character, whose fiction is at once intellectually stimulating and moving. . . . It’s a tricky book, but in the best way. When I got to the end, I wanted to start from the top again immediately, both to revisit the characters and to understand better how the pieces fit together. Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay.”

—Malena Watrous, The San Francisco Chronicle

 

“For all its postmodern flourishes, Goon Squad is as traditional as a Dickens novel. . . . Her aim is not so much to explode traditional storytelling as to explore how it responds to the pressures and opportunities of the digital age. Egan herself does not appear to be on Facebook, but A Visit From the Goon Squad will likely make her many new friends.”

—Jennie Yabroff, Newsweek

“Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is a singular work of fiction in both senses of the word. It’s as if the author has taken an epic novel covering five decades and expertly filleted it, casting aside excess characters and years to come away with a narrative that is wide-ranging but remarkably focused. . . . Vibrant and winning. . . . While this is occasionally a wistful book, it isn’t’ sad. Each narrative disorientation and subsequent reorientation reminds us of how we weave in and out of one another’s lives, staying connected through memory—our shield against the goon squad. By the time we get to the last page of Egan’s book . . . we’re left wanting more.”

—Marty Pols, Time

 

“Clever. Edgy. Groundbreaking. . . . For all of its cool, languid, arched-eyebrow sophistication—that’s the part that will make you think ‘Didion’—and for all of the glitteringly gorgeous sentences that flit through its pages like exotic fish—that’s the DeLillo part—the novel is actually a sturdy, robust, old-fashioned affair. It features characters about whom you come to care deeply as you watch them doing things they shouldn't, acting gloriously, infuriatingly human.”

—Julia Keller, The Chicago Tribune

“Jennifer Egan has accomplished the tricky feat of using metafiction techniques without sacrificing old-fashioned story-telling. . . . A Visit from the Goon Squad has a circuitous structure that seems almost designed for our Internet rewired brains.”

—Steven Kurutz, The Wall Street Journal

“Expect to inhale Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. Then expect it to lodge in your cranium and your breastbone a good long while. I expect this brilliant, inventive novel to become enshrined. Such rash speculation is foolish, I know—we live amid a plague of bloated praise. But A Visit From the Goon Squad is emboldening. It cracks the world open afresh . . . Would that Marcel Proust could receive A Visit From the Goon Squad. It would blow his considerable mind.”

—Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

“Expect to inhale Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. Then expect it to lodge in your cranium and your breastbone a good long while. I expect this brilliant, inventive novel to become enshrined. Such rash speculation is foolish, I know—we live amid a plague of bloated praise. But A Visit From the Goon Squad is emboldening. It cracks the world open afresh . . . Would that Marcel Proust could receive A Visit From the Goon Squad. It would blow his considerable mind.”

—Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

“In her audacious, extraordinary fourth novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan uses the pop-music business as a prism to examine the heedless pace of modern life, generational impasses, and the awful gravity of age and entropy. . . . A Visit from the Goon Squad is fascinating for its daring scope and fractured narrative, but along the way, Egan crafts some brilliant scenes. . . . A rich and rewarding novel.”

—David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquierer

“Grounded in the passions and frustrations of a record producer and his nervy assistant, Jennifer Egan’s bravura fifth book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, samples from different eras (the glory days of punk; a slick, socially networked future) and styles (sly satire, moving tragedy, even PowerPoint) to explore the interplay between music and the rough rhythms of life.”

—Megan O’Grady, Vogue

“Wildly ambitious. . . . A tour de force. . . . Music is both subject and metaphor as Egan explores the mutability of time, destiny, and individual accountability post-technology.”

—Liza Nelson, O, The Oprah Magazine

 

A Visit from the Goon Squad [is] an exhilarating, big-hearted, three-headed beast of a story. . . . [A] genius as a writer. . . . We see ourselves in all of Egan’s characters because their stories of heartbreak and redemption seem so real they could be our own, regardless of the soundtrack. Such is the stuff great novels are made of.”

—Kimberly Cutter, Marie-Claire

 

“[Egan is] a boldly intellectual writer who is not afraid to apply her equally powerful intuitive skills to her ambitious projects. . . . While it’s a time-trekking, tech-freakin’ doozie, the characters’ lives and fates claim the story first and foremost, and we are pulled right in. . . . Brilliantly structured, with storylike chapters.”

—Lisa Shea, Elle

“[A] slamming multi-generational San Francisco family saga.”

—Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

 

“Frequently dazzling. . . . Egan’s expert flaying of human foibles has the compulsive allure of poking at a sore tooth: excruciating but exhilarating too. A-”

—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

“Remarkable . . . A finely braided meditation on time, memory, pop culture, and the perils of growing up in America.”

—Paul Vidich, Narrative Magazine

 

“Poignant. . . . A nice reminder that even in the age of Kindles and Facebook, ambitious fiction is still one of the best tools available to help us understand the rapidly changing world. . . . Her startling, apocalyptic take on the near future is all the more chilling for its utter plausibility, and brings the realization that Egan was up to much more here than just trying to reinvent the novel's format. You’ll want to recommend it to all your Facebook friends.”

—Patrick Condon, Associated Press

 

“Forget what literati the world over say about the demise of the “big” novel, the kind that patiently threads its way through the tangled knot of humankind’s shared urges, fears, frailties and joys. A Visit from the Goon Squad admittedly cannot be described either as a novel or a collection of short stories, but it is a great work of fiction, a profound and glorious exploration of the fullness and complexity of the human condition. . . . An extraordinary new work of fiction.”

—Rayyan Al-Shawaf, The New York Press

“Poetry and pathos . . . Egan conveys personality so swiftly and with such empathy. . . . Yet she is not a conventional dystopian novelist; distinctions between the virtual and the real may be breaking down in this world, but her characters have recognizable emotions and convictions, which is why their compromises and uncertainties continue to move us. . . . Another ambitious change of pace from talented and visionary Egan, who reinvents the novel for the 21st century while affirming its historic values.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

“Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time . . . a hilarious melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel.”

—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

 

“The star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre bending new school is alive and well in this graceful yet wild novel . . . powerful.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

“Well-defined characters and an engaging narrative. . . . Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle.”

Gwen Vredevoogd, Library Journal

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 24 comments:

Almeda Roth, September 8, 2011 (view all comments by Almeda Roth)
I told my husband that I would turn the nightstand light off after ten more pages, and that was sixty pages ago. I can't stop reading this book, or shaking my head in total astonishment at the RIGHT-ON-NESS of it: the way Egan inhabits her characters' voices, captures the evolution of the American pop-cultural ethos from the early 1980s to today, and locates with great emotional precision the thin line between confused and crazy in a way that will make even the sanest person squirm with recognition. I'm blown away by the simple genius of the book's construction as a collection of chapters each told from a different character's point of view in a different time period, allowing the reader to assemble them into a cohesive whole. This book is funny, tragic, insightful, and absolutely BRILLS.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Paula Weisberger, March 16, 2011 (view all comments by Paula Weisberger)
I am a huge fan of books told in nonstandard ways, and I really enjoyed Jennifer Egan's latest A Visit from the Goon Squad. The time frame and time span of the stories jumps all over the place - even into the future 2020 world. The title refers to Time, the ineveitable and masterful goon squad, and the disappointments, losses and eventual connections that keep us grounded in the passage of time. I loved the anticipation of each new chapter and figuring out connections between characters and events. In addition, the chapters are told in various narrative perspectives, tones, purposes, styles and even a whole chapter told in powerpoint presentation, which I felt was very quirky and powerful. I look forward to discussing the book with my Book Club tonight.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Tommy Keesling, March 13, 2011 (view all comments by Tommy Keesling)
I love reading a confident writer -- a writer that you just know early on is in complete control of their story. With this book, I was completely hooked in by page 9 and the words, "it's between us." From there, the book weaves you backward and forward in time, traveling to different locations with a variety of characters taking the stage. It's a great read - poignant, funny and always entertaining.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 24 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307592835
Author:
Egan, Jennifer
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Young women
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20100631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.58x6.60x1.10 in. 1.30 lbs.

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Related Subjects

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A Visit from the Goon Squad Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307592835 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Jennifer Egan's new novel is a fantastically inventive, intelligent, and fully realized exploration of music, art, and life. It even includes a chapter written in PowerPoint, which is actually a pleasure to read. A Visit from the Goon Squad is Egan's most accomplished work to date.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Readers will be pleased to discover that the star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre-bending new school is alive in well in this graceful yet wild novel. We begin in contemporaryish New York with kleptomaniac Sasha and her boss, rising music producer Bennie Salazar, before flashing back, with Bennie, to the glory days of Bay Area punk rock, and eventually forward, with Sasha, to a settled life. By then, Egan has accrued tertiary characters, like Scotty Hausmann, Bennie's one-time bandmate who all but dropped out of society, and Alex, who goes on a date with Sasha and later witnesses the future of the music industry. Egan's overarching concerns are about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn. Or as one character asks, 'How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about?' Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , “It may be the smartest book you can get your hands on this summer.”
"Review" by , "Jennifer Egan is a rare bird: an experimental writer with a deep commitment to character, whose fiction is at once intellectually stimulating and moving....It’s a tricky book, but in the best way. When I got to the end, I wanted to start from the top again immediately, both to revisit the characters and to understand better how the pieces fit together. Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay.”
"Review" by , "For all its postmodern flourishes, Goon Squad is as traditional as a Dickens novel....Her aim is not so much to explode traditional storytelling as to explore how it responds to the pressures and opportunities of the digital age."
"Review" by , "Clever. Edgy. Groundbreaking....For all of its cool, languid, arched-eyebrow sophistication — that’s the part that will make you think ‘Didion’ — and for all of the glitteringly gorgeous sentences that flit through its pages like exotic fish — that’s the DeLillo part — the novel is actually a sturdy, robust, old-fashioned affair. It features characters about whom you come to care deeply as you watch them doing things they shouldn't, acting gloriously, infuriatingly human.”
"Review" by , "Well-defined characters and an engaging narrative....Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle.”
"Review" by , "Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time....a hilarious melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel.”
"Review" by , "Poignant....A nice reminder that even in the age of Kindles and Facebook, ambitious fiction is still one of the best tools available to help us understand the rapidly changing world....Her startling, apocalyptic take on the near future is all the more chilling for its utter plausibility, and brings the realization that Egan was up to much more here than just trying to reinvent the novel's format. You’ll want to recommend it to all your Facebook friends."
"Synopsis" by , From one of today's boldest writers comes a sly, surprising, and exhilarating novel about time, survival, and the electrifying sparks ignited at the seams of our lives by colliding destinies.
"Synopsis" by , Jennifer Egan's spellbinding new work circles Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs.

Bennie and Sasha never discover each others pasts, but the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other people whose paths intersect with theirs in the San Francisco 1970s music scene, the demimonde of Naples, New York at many points along the way from the pre-Internet nineties to a postwar future, and on a catastrophic safari into the heart of Africa. We meet Lou, Bennie's charismatic, careless mentor; Scotty, the young musician who slipped off the grid; the uncle facing a failed marriage who goes in search of seventeen-year-old Sasha when she disappears into Italy; and the therapist on whose couch she dissects darker compulsions.

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about time, survival, and the electrifying sparks ignited at the seams of our lives by colliding destinies. Sly, surprising, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

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