February 28, 2012

A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.  I really enjoyed this book.  It is definitely not for everyone, though.  It is not a story told in linear fashion; rather, it is a series of 13 short stories, subtly linked together and scattered across about 40 years.  One of them is actually a series of powerpoint pictures, but don't let that deter you from picking it up - that chapter is fascinating!

The overall theme of the book is about how we experience time, and it ranges from the San Francisco music scene in the 1970s to a techno-savvy, futuristic New York City.  Music looms large across the stories.  Several of the primary characters work in the music industry, and mentions of popular musicians and songs help provide a reference for the setting.  I think it's also appropriate, given how music can so easily transport us back to a certain time or place, and that aspect of the book is what drew it to me in the first place.

The characters are not lovable.  Indeed, they are extremely flawed, and it can be difficult to connect with them.  Also, we are only given glimpses and not a full novel to develop each of the characters, and that makes it challenging as well.  Some of the stories are pretty dark, some are funny; but all of them kept me engaged, and the overall effect was beautiful.  

It's an interesting and thought-provoking book.  It's different to be sure, but if you view that as a positive, it's a book I would definitely recommend.

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